The Malaysian government announced that it would send nearly 1 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Bangladesh and Laos.
The vaccines would arrive in both countries on Dec. 6 and Dec. 8, respectively, reported Bernama.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the contribution would ensure both countries have equal access to COVID-19 vaccines amid the growing spread of the Omicron variant.
Bangladesh’s government has previously raised the alarm over the shortage of hospital beds as the number of infections has been climbing since July.
“If the infection continues to increase like this, there will be no place left in hospitals,” said Health Minister Zahid Maleque. The South Asian country has recorded 1,577,720 cases with 28,000 deaths.
Khairy said only 20 percent of Bangladesh’s population and 42 percent of Laos’ were fully vaccinated, which pales in comparison to Malaysia’s at 78 percent.
Minister Khairy added that despite these contributions, Malaysia has sufficient vaccines for adults and adolescents, including booster doses for eligible individuals.
Earlier in June, Malaysia also joined Russia and Europe in donating vaccines to Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Southeast Asian nation delivered 50,000 Chinese Sinovac vaccines to the Balkan country, which pleaded with the international community for help amid rising COVID-19 infections and deaths in Europe.
“The Malaysian government, through MOH and Wisma Putra (Foreign Ministry), will continue to identify and assist countries that have recorded low vaccination rates through the provision of COVID-19 vaccine donations,” Khairy added.
Malaysia has itself received over 2.9 million vaccine doses from Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom. More recently, its Johorian state received 100,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines from neighbour Singapore.
“The contribution had helped increase the rate of vaccination coverage in the country, and now, Malaysia hopes to do the same to other countries in need,” said Khairy.
To date, some 90 percent of Malaysia’s teenagers aged between 12 and 17 have been vaccinated, according to the country’s CovidNow portal.
Malaysia also has one of the fastest adolescent COVID-19 vaccination rollouts globally, where 80 percent of adolescents were administered one dose of vaccine within two months, said Khairy.