Claims of vaccines for sale ‘fraud’

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An official is inoculated against Covid-19 in Banteay Meanchey province on Wednesday. Banteay Meanchey

Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine denied recent claims the ministry had surreptitiously given Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccinations to unauthorised persons in exchange for money at Calmette Hospital.

She condemned a local media report, saying vaccination is free and not for sale under any circumstances, and that it is currently only available to volunteers from such groups as have been identified as eligible by the health ministry.

“I deny that accusation totally and condemn those persons who pollute society with such fabrications and spread these false notions and disinformation. We don’t require anyone pay any money to be vaccinated.”

She said that because Cambodia’s vaccines supplies are limited, they were only being offered to those who are members of previously announced priority groups.

She requested that authorities take action against any media organisation that spreads this fake news.

The Chinese embassy issued a warning on February 24, stating that it had recently received reports from some Chinese citizens in Cambodia claiming text messages in Chinese on their mobile phones offering vaccinations for a $120 service fee.

The Chinese-language messages said that recipients could make an appointment in Cambodia to receive the “Chinese National Medicine’s New Coronavirus Pneumonia Vaccine”.

The Chinese embassy said there have also been reports of people openly peddling a “Chinese-made Covid-19 vaccine” on social media at prices as high as $450 per dose, adding that Cambodians have rightly been sceptical of these claims.

“According to our understanding, the Cambodian government and military are responsible for the storage and administration of the Chinese-supplied Covid-19 vaccines.

“Vaccinations [in Cambodia] are still subject to extremely strict approval procedures. There is no possibility that the vaccines donated by China to Cambodia would be for sale on the open market.

“All advertisements peddling Chinese Covid-19 vaccines are fraudulent, so please be aware of this and ignore them,” the embassy stated.

Vandine also requested patience from those who wished to be vaccinated against Covid-19 now but must wait because supplies of the vaccines remain limited.

She said those who are not in groups designated by the health ministry must please refrain from coming in for vaccinations at this time. They must wait until they see an announcement issued by the ministry. The ministry will gladly vaccinate more people when it has more vaccines to do so.

In a February 24 Facebook post, the Australian embassy stated that the Cambodian government had confirmed that all foreign nationals living or working in the Kingdom will be eligible to be vaccinated as part of the country’s Covid-19 vaccination rollout.

According to a letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, obtained yesterday by The Post, all foreign nationals currently residing or working in Cambodia will be eligible for vaccination against Covid-19 free of charge.

The letter stated that relevant vaccination details and procedures for foreign nationals would be provided in due course.

On February 25, the Battambang province will begin vaccination for police and health officials from 8am to noon and 2pm to 5pm at six locations: Battambang Provincial Referral Hospital, Mong Russey Referral Hospital, Sampov Loun Referral Hospital, Thmor Koul Referral Hospital, Borvel Referral Hospital and Ek Phnom Referral Hospital.

Banteay Meanchey province’s vaccinations have already begun and run the same hours noted above at these four locations: Cambodia-Japan Friendship Hospital, Thmar Puok District Referral Hospital, Poipet Referral Hospital and Preah Net Preah Referral Hospital.