U.S. delivery boosts COVID-19 vaccination efforts in Laos

Officials posing with COVID-19 vaccine boxes on tarmac (U.S. Government)
The United States formally handed over more than 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Laos on July 19. (U.S. Government)

The United States’ delivery of COVID-19 vaccine doses is helping the Lao People’s Democratic Republic quickly achieve its vaccination goals and save lives.

The United States formally handed over more than 1 million doses of U.S. producer Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccine to Laos on July 19, enough to vaccinate around 14 percent of the country’s population.

“The Government of Lao PDR highly values the continued efforts of the Government of the United States of America and the American people in assisting the Government and the Lao people,” Pany Yathotou, vice president of Laos, said on July 21. “I am confident that the arrival of the Johnson & Johnson vaccines will accelerate the efforts to reach 50 percent of the population in 2021.”

Laos will prioritize vaccinations of health care workers, people over 60, those with underlying health conditions, as well as people in remote and hard-to-reach areas. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is stored at normal refrigeration temperatures, helping serve remote areas.

The vaccine deliveries are part of far-reaching U.S. efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen global health security. President Biden in May said the U.S. would be the “arsenal of vaccines” for the world.

The U.S. government contributed $2 billion to Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance in March, which supported procurement and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines through the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility.

In July, the U.S. government provided an additional $2 billion contribution for Gavi that will help fill the gap in COVAX’s vaccine supply. This contribution, along with other U.S. government funds, will be used toward the purchase of 500 million Pfizer vaccine doses for distribution through COVAX to low- and middle-income countries as defined by Gavi’s Advance Market Commitment (AMC) and the African Union. It will also fund country vaccination readiness activities.

Laos received two prior COVID-19 vaccine deliveries through COVAX: 100,620 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in June and 132,000 doses of Astra-Zeneca’s vaccine in March.