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Cambodia Considering Third COVID-19 Shot To Bolster Protection

FILE - A medical worker shows a vial of China's Sinovac Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Ministry of Information in Phnom Penh on April 1, 2021. (AFP)
FILE - A medical worker shows a vial of China's Sinovac Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Ministry of Information in Phnom Penh on April 1, 2021. (AFP)

The Cambodian government is considering administering a third dose for fully-vaccinated citizens, the Health Ministry said on Thursday, as other countries make similar announcements to boost existing vaccine efficacy.

At a Thursday press conference, Or Vandine said that Phnom Penh’s vaccine drive had been finished – ending with little more than 2 million people fully vaccinated. The government has predominantly used two Chinese-made vaccines to accelerate its vaccination drive – Sinopharm in “red zone” areas and Sinovac in the rest of the city.

The Health Ministry senior official said the government was considering a third dose, but only trials and research backed up the use of a booster shot for COVID-19.

“We are now considering a third dose of the vaccine or booster... but we are waiting for the global scientific study first,” she told reporters in Phnom Penh.

She said health officials will continue the rapid vaccination of citizens, hoping to reach 10 million vaccinated people by October this year.

“Vaccines are very crucial. It helps protect us from deaths or causing serious illness from COVID-19. This is the benefit of vaccines,” she added.

Reached on Telegram, Or Vandine expressed confidence in the vaccines used in Cambodia, including Sinovac, adding that the medications had been approved by the World Health Organization.

Despite Prime Minister Hun Sen’s assurances, the government used both Sinopharm and Sinovac since March before they were approved by the World Health Organization. On May 7, WHO approved Sinopharm with an efficacy of 79 percent and Sinovac was approved on June 1 with 52 percent protection against symptomatic disease and 100 percent against hospitalizations and deaths.

Other countries have considered or are already giving booster shots to supplement existing vaccines, especially the Chinese-made vaccines. The United Arab Emirates is giving its residents a third dose of the Sinopharm vaccine, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Bahrain is following two doses of Sinopharm with a Pfizer-BioNTech shot, with Turkey following suit and giving people a third shot of the U.S.-made vaccine to protect from the Delta variant of the novel coronavirus.

Reuters reported on Thursday that Indonesia and Thailand are considering offering a booster shot to their medical workers immunized with Sinovac's COVID-19 vaccine.

Phay Siphan, a government spokesperson, said Chinese-made vaccines were a “strategic good” in the fight against COVID-19.

The Health Ministry on Friday reported 30 deaths, bringing the tally to 855, and 988 new cases with total cases passing the 59,000 cases mark.