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Half of Cambodia's population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Half of Cambodia's population has received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine

FILE PHOTO: People wait in line before being vaccinated against COVID-19 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on Apr 22, 2021. (Photo: Reuters/Cindy Liu)

PHNOM PENH: Cambodia has administered at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose to half of its population, among the highest rates in Asia, official data showed on Wednesday (Aug 11), with vaccine diplomacy playing a key part in its success.

Cambodia, an ally of China and one of Asia's poorest countries, started inoculations with Chinese-made vaccines in February, while millions of doses provided by the United States, Japan and Britain have arrived in recent weeks.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday said Cambodia should reach the 10 million people targeted for vaccination about seven or eight months earlier than planned.

Of Cambodia's more than 16 million people, 8.3 million have received at least one dose, while 6.4 million of those have received both required shots.

The rate is similar to Malaysia's 49.4 per cent receiving a first dose, but higher than the 25 per cent of the population in neighbouring Thailand and 12 per cent of people in Vietnam.

China has provided 18.7 million doses to Cambodia, of which 3.2 million were donations, according to the Chinese embassy.

The United States announced this week it would provide Cambodia with an additional US$4 million in urgent assistance after donating one million doses of Johnson & Johnson's vaccine through the COVAX vaccine-share initiative.

"The United States will continue to donate additional vaccine doses globally in the coming months as supply becomes available," said Chad Roedemeier, a US embassy spokesperson.

Sebastian Strangio, an author and expert on China's relationship with Southeast Asia, said whether by intention or happenstance, Cambodia has done well from international competition.

"Cambodia has also benefited from the fact that it is a developing country, making it eligible for access to vaccines via the COVAX facility," Strangio said by email.

"Many outside observers, particularly in the US, will no doubt view Cambodia's vaccine progress through the lens of the country's close relationship with China – and clearly, Chinese largess is to explain for a good amount of the country's achievement."

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Source: Reuters/mi

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