Remarks by Mr. Ben Wohlauer, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., Arrival of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Donated by the United States to Cambodia

Phnom Penh International Airport 

July 30, 2021 

  • Your Excellency Dr. Mam Bun Heng, Minister of Health 
  • Representatives of UNICEF and the World Health Organization 

On behalf of Ambassador Murphy, it is my honor and pleasure to be with you this morning.  

Equitable global access to safe and effective vaccines is essential to ending the COVID-19 pandemic, saving lives, rebuilding the global economy, and stopping the threat of new variants.  Thus, as President Biden has said, we must bring the same urgency to international vaccination efforts that we have demonstrated at home.  

This morning the first of two flights landed in Phnom Penh bringing what will amount to 1,060,100 doses of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.  This is a gift from the American people, through COVAX, that will protect more than a million Cambodians.  With this contribution, the United States reaffirms its longstanding commitment to public health in Cambodia.  That commitment has never been clearer than during this global pandemic. 

Let me stress that we do not share these doses to secure favors or extract concessions.  Our vaccines do not come with strings attached. We are sharing these vaccines to save lives and to lead global efforts to bring an end to the pandemic.   

The United States has committed $4 billion to COVAX, making it the single largest contributor to the international response to COVID-19.  In Cambodia, the United States has provided more than $11 million in COVID-19 assistance since the pandemic first broke out.  Since the beginning of the outbreak, U.S. Government health agencies have been working hand in hand with their Cambodian counterparts on surveillance, contact tracing, and research to stem the spread of COVID-19. 

Indeed, defeating the pandemic is a team effort, and the United States is privileged to be one member of an all-star team that includes national, international, and non-governmental bodies.   To our UNICEF colleagues, I thank you for your collaboration.  Together we have provided critical hygiene and prevention supplies to schools, quarantine centers, and pagodas.  We’ve worked with the Ministry of Health to engage more than 10 million Cambodians across the nation with radio, video, and print materials to prevent COVID transmission.  And it is thanks to your logistical and planning support that today’s and Monday’s delivery of vaccines are possible. 

I would also like to thank Dr. Ailan and the World Health Organization team for their tireless efforts to mitigate the pandemic’s impact in the Kingdom, from the arrival of the MS Westerdam last February to the present day.  Your leadership has been vital in forging the alliance among international health partners and the Royal Government of Cambodia.  

Most importantly, Your Excellency, Minister of Health, I would like to recognize the incredible efforts of your national team, the courage of Cambodia’s front-line workers, and the leadership you have shown during these most difficult times.  Under your guidance, Cambodia has rapidly assessed the threat, established a plan, and quickly engaged all partners to stop COVID-19.  While the battle is not yet won, Cambodia has made great strides preparing the health care system to deal with the threat, increase treatment capacity, improve laboratory systems, ensure contact tracing, and guide the provinces in their efforts.   

The United States remains proud to partner with you and to help provide tools to end the pandemic and to prevent the next one.