Southeast Asia’s vaccine rollout has officially begun.
As with the rest of the world, Southeast Asia is primed and ready to move past the Covid-19 pandemic. Several ASEAN nations are currently rolling out their supply of vaccines to the masses in the hopes of bringing back a semblance of normal to the new normal.
Quite tellingly, these mass inoculations coincide with a continuous and troubling spike in COVID-19 infections in the region. Critics have derided the ASEAN vaccine rollout as an inadequate response to the gravity of the situation. Although wealthy Singapore has fully vaccinated 27.63 per cent of its population, the other countries in the region have a long way to go in catching up – Cambodia follows Singapore with 11.5 per cent of its population fully vaccinated, while Vietnam lags behind with only 0.03 per cent.
Compounding this slow response are the people’s personal fears about receiving the vaccine. Out of seven Southeast Asian countries tracked by YouGov, the share of population willing to get vaccinated ranged from 50 per cent (the Philippines) to 85 per cent (Vietnam). Still, Southeast Asia’s vaccine rollout has officially begun. Below, check out how each ASEAN country has handled its vaccine response
Indonesia’s vaccine rollout hits a few speed bumps.
With over 1.76 million Covid-19 cases in total, Indonesia initially set out to vaccinate 40.2 million healthcare workers, public officials and elderly citizens by the end of April 2021. However, the rollout has lagged way behind this goal: so far, only 13.68 million Indonesians have received their first dose of either the Sinovac or AstraZeneca vaccines, and just under nine million have received both doses. This means that only 3.74 per cent of the population have been fully vaccinated.
Singapore leads the region’s vaccine response.
When it comes to rolling out vaccines, Singapore cannot be beaten. The country has dispensed more than 3.4 million doses of the vaccine, with over 1.4 million fully vaccinated citizens. The government recently authorised the Pfizer vaccine to be used on those aged 12 to 15, while the Moderna vaccine will be administered to those above 18. Additionally, on May 31 the government opened vaccination appointments to students.
Malaysia struggles to get their hands on vaccines.
According to the country’s science, technology and innovation ministry, phase three of Malaysia’s vaccine response could be delayed due to a sore lack of vaccine supplies. Khairy Jamaluddin, the minister in charge of the plan, blamed this on the priorities of vaccine companies. “Pharmaceutical companies prioritise rich countries and give them deals which were not offered to developing countries,” he said. Additionally, the government in May made the AstraZeneca vaccine optional due to safety concerns.
The Philippines enforces a “brand-blind” vaccination policy.
Despite having one of the world’s strictest and longest lockdowns, the Philippines struggles to dispense its vaccine supply. So far, only 3.16 per cent of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, with a measly 0.94 per cent having been fully vaccinated. And on May 19, the country’s department of health announced that it will implement a “brand-agnostic” approach in which people will only be told what vaccine they will be receiving while waiting in line to get the dose. However, things are looking up – the country recently ordered a whopping 40 million doses of the vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech.
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