Southeast Asia scrambling for COVID-19 vaccines

Southeast Asian nations have been pressing ahead with the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination.

Singaporean health authorities say vaccines developed by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have arrived and vaccination is expected to start next month.

They say they hope to secure enough doses, including domestically developed vaccines, for the entire population by September 30 of next year and to get everyone inoculated by the end of that year.

Indonesians are assessing whether to give emergency use authorization for about 155 million doses of vaccines they purchased from a Chinese pharmaceutical company.

Thailand is in negotiations with pharmaceutical companies on purchasing enough vaccines for half of the country's population. The country is also developing vaccines on its own.

Malaysia is expected to get vaccines for 70 percent of its population, if negotiations go smoothly.

But other countries in the region have been struggling. Vaccines that Myanmar is expected to purchase will cover only 20 percent of its population.

The Philippines will be able to procure a mere 3 percent of its vaccine needs by the end of next year.

These countries are trying to buy vaccines through the COVAX facility.

The facility, led by the World Health Organization among others, is a global risk-sharing mechanism for pooled procurement and equitable distribution of eventual COVID-19 vaccines.

But the COVAX facility can only cover part of each country's population.