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Oct 04, 2021 / 21:10

ASEAN to provide its members with Covid-19 vaccines in Q4

The regional governments have stood as one in action in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic from very early on.

ASEAN is expected in the fourth quarter (Q4) of this year to provide its member states with the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines from the bloc’s fund worth US$10.5 million.

 ASEAN  top diplomats gather for the meeting on Oct 4. Photos: Tuan Anh/ Baoquocte

The news was released at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) held virtually on Oct 4. The meeting is part of preparations for the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and Related Summits in October 2021.

The vaccine delivery is sourced from the ASEAN Covid-19 Response Fund contributed by all 10 members and some donors.

At the meeting, top diplomats agreed to intensify contributions to the ASEAN Regional Reserves of Medical Supplies for Public Health Emergencies (RRMS), which marked contributions by its members and big countries namely the US, Japan, the UK, Germany, Canada, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand, India, and China. Vietnam committed $5 million to the reserves.

They expected the soon operation of the ASEAN Center for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED).

To head toward recovery plans, the member countries agreed to facilitate the movement of essential activities stated in the ASEAN Travel Corridor Arrangement Framework and the adoption of vaccine passports in the region.

Regarding vaccine production, Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son at the meeting recommended ASEAN to enhance its vaccine resilience by building the regional vaccine supply chain.

Vietnam is one of three ASEAN nations developing vaccines against Covid-19.

On this occasion, Hanoi pledged to speed up the operation of ACPHEED to help the bloc soon overcome the global health crisis.

At the meeting, the top diplomats exchanged views on challenges facing the region, requiring the regional countries to keep the ASEAN Centrality in the regional and global agendas.

They shared the same views on Myanmar and the South China Sea issues, highlighting ASEAN’s common voice in issues relating to peace, security, and rules-based approach in the sea, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Also on Oct 4, two other regional meetings took place, namely the 24th ASEAN Political Security Community (APSC) Council Meeting and the 30th the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) Meeting.

At the APSC meeting, the participants agreed to further cooperation in four new areas, including Covid-19 response, ASEAN’s stance on the Indo-Pacific, cybersecurity, and the ASEAN Women, Peace and Security Agenda (WPS) in order to improve the adaptability of the political-security pillar to new emerging challenges.

At the ACC, the countries discussed initiatives to be submitted at the ASEAN Summits, including speeding up a holistic approach to disaster and emergency response, promoting multilateralism, building common awareness on the green maritime economy, general strategy on Industry 4.0, and setting up a high-level task force to build the ASEAN Community Vision after 2025.

 Vietnam's Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son at the meeting. 

ASEAN joint efforts against Covid-19

The governments of ASEAN member states have stood as one in action in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic from very early on.

Since mid-February, Vietnam issued the Chairman’s Statement on ASEAN Collective Response to the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019.

In mid-April, shortly after the pandemic's outbreak, the bloc organized the Special ASEAN and ASEAN Plus Three Summits on Covid-19 during which leaders of ASEAN member states and its partners (China, South Korea, and Japan) made a strong commitment to act together in the spirit of cohesiveness and responsiveness.

At the 36th ASEAN Summit chaired by Vietnam, heads of ASEAN member states announced on June 26, 2020, the establishment of the ASEAN Covid-19 Response Fund.

At the 37th ASEAN Summit, member states establish the ASEAN Regional Reserves of Medical Supplies for Public Health Emergencies (RRMS) and adopt the ACPHEED.

The moves show substantive cooperation in enhancing ASEAN’s joint capacity in response to medical emergencies and future epidemic threats.

So far, Covid-19 with the Delta variant has attacked all ASEAN member states for several months. Indonesia is the hardest hit with 4.22 million infections and 142,000 deaths; the Philippines 2.6 million and nearly 39,000; Malaysia 2.27 million and 26,600; Thailand 1.65 million and 17,000; Vietnam 813,000 and nearly 19,000; Myanmar 468,000 and 18,000; Cambodia 113,000 and 2,400; and Singapore 104,000 and 113, according to the Johns Hopkins University.