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Asia Minute: Regional Vaccine Swap

coronavirus vaccine moderna pfizer
David Goldman
Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines sit in a refrigerator at a mass-vaccination site at the former Citizens Bank headquarters in Cranston, R.I., Thursday, June 10, 2021. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

In some places, demand is outpacing supply — but two countries in the Asia Pacific have found a solution.

Australia needs vaccines now. More than half the country’s population is under lockdown.

Australia’s government is pushing ahead with a national vaccination program after a late start.

The government says only about 35% of residents over the age of 16 are fully vaccinated.

In Singapore, roughly 80% of the population is fully vaccinated — and the country is already looking ahead to strategies for booster shots.

That combination is resulting in a vaccine swap, starting with Singapore sending half a million doses to Australia now.

Then in December, when Australia gets more doses from a previous commercial order, it will send them to Singapore which plans to use them as booster shots.

This isn’t the first time the strategy has been used in Asia.

In early July, Israel had about 700,000 Pfizer doses that were set to expire soon.

South Korea was facing a shortage and used the Israeli doses to target under-vaccinated areas in and around Seoul.

South Korea will send a similar number of doses to Israel later this year.

Back in Australia, the government expects to distribute the doses from Singapore across the country starting next week.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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