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The first delivery of Covid-19 vaccines under the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue’s vaccine partnership was made on Tuesday, with representatives of the four member countries handing over 325,000 doses of made-in-India jabs to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The Quad vaccine partnership was launched at the first virtual summit of the leaders of India, Australia, Japan and the US in March 2021 to provide more than 1.2 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines globally by the end of 2022. Vaccines developed in America are being manufactured by India’s Biological E with funding from the US and Japan.
Indian Ambassador Devyani Khobragade joined representatives from the embassies of Australia, Japan and the US to jointly hand over the consignment of Covishield vaccines to Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh.
The vaccines were gifted by India as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to donate 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccines to the Indo-Pacific under the Quad vaccine initiative. These doses are in addition to the billion doses to be supplied by the end of the year.
Hun Sen said that India has made significant contributions to Cambodia’s socio-economic recovery through humanitarian aid, support in trade and culture, and financial lending in bilateral and multilateral frameworks.
“Whilst the spread of Covid-19 has subsided…I would like to encourage further strengthening of friendship, promotion of cooperation and strengthening of relations between Cambodia and the members of the Quad initiative, especially between Cambodia [and] India in terms of trade, investment, information technology, relaxation of travel requirements and connection through direct flights, and development of tourism,” he said.
The Quad vaccine partnership aims to leverage the grouping’s collective strength to ensure global availability of safe and effective vaccines by expanding manufacturing and assisting countries in the Indo-Pacific with vaccination, the external affairs ministry said.
The members of Quad have provided Cambodia close to five million doses of Covid-19 vaccines bilaterally and through the WHO-led COVAX facility. The Quad countries have also provided last mile delivery assistance to ensure that vaccines are translated into vaccinations.
Australia and Japan have provided cold storage equipment, freezers and temperature monitors, along with equipment for the safety of healthcare workers. The US has provided assistance with surveillance and contact tracing, case investigation, training healthcare workers, and data management.
The Cambodian government conveyed its appreciation for vaccines received from Quad through India and for the collective assistance provided by the grouping. The Quad countries have assured Cambodia of their desire to extend all possible support to combat the pandemic.
Under the Quad vaccine partnership, the US Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are providing finance to support Biological E’s efforts to manufacture one billion doses of vaccines.
At the Quad leaders’ summit in September last year, it was decided that Japan will continue to help regional countries procure safe and effective vaccines through $3.3 billion from the Covid-19 Crisis Response Emergency Support Loan programme. It was also decided that Australia would deliver $212 million in grant aid to purchase vaccines for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and allocate $219 million to support last-mile vaccine rollouts.