ASEAN has agreed to allocate US$10.5 million in its Covid-19 Response Fund to buy vaccines for 10 member states under the equal allotment.
|Nguyen Quoc Dung, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Head of Vietnam’s ASEAN delegation. Photo: Vietnam MOFA|
The consensus was reached at the sixth meeting of the ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) Working Group on Public Health Emergencies (ACCWG-PHE) held virtually on February 18.
Speaking at the meeting, Nguyen Quoc Dung, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Head of Vietnam’s delegation, expressed support for the vaccine purchase and stressed the need to identify in each country the vaccine types, demand, and the groups to be inoculated.
He appreciated ASEAN Chair 2021 Brunei’s proposal to utilize the WHO-led COVAX vaccine-sharing mechanism to meet ASEAN’s Covid-19 vaccine demand.
The Covid-19 ASEAN Response Fund, which was set up in 2020 under the Vietnam’s Chairmanship, has received commitments worth US$15 million from the bloc’s members and its partners.
As stipulated, the Covid-19 ASEAN Response Fund shall serve as a pool of financial resources to provide support to ASEAN member states in the detection, control and prevention of Covid-19 transmission and in protecting the safety of medical professionals, healthcare workers, frontline workers, and the wider population of member countries.
The fund shall be made equally accessible to all ASEAN member states for the purpose of, among others, procuring necessary medical supplies and equipment which may include but are not limited test kits/diagnostic tools; personal protective equipment, including gloves, medical masks, goggles, face shields, gowns, among others; essential medical supplies, including medicines and vaccines and other medical supplies and equipment for diagnostic and treatment procedures.
At the meeting, participants also pledged to soon operate the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies in case of emergency.
The member countries also agreed to soon build the ASEAN Travel Corridor, an initiative proposed by Indonesia, to facilitate essential travel of regional people amid uncertainties of the pandemic.
In addition, the bloc will soon operate the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases (ACPHEED) which gets support by Japan.
Regarding to recovery plans, the implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework is going smooth with 24 out of 193 initiatives completed and 127 others underway in 2021, including a to-be-established committee in charge of coordination and support for recovery efforts.