Brunei's Ministry of Health said in a press release on Wednesday that the country received a batch of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine donated by China on Tuesday and is reviewing a vaccination program.
In March 2020, at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Brunei provided assistance to China, which underscored the close bilateral cooperation towards managing the pandemic, the ministry said.
The ministry said they are still reviewing the plans for the distribution of the vaccine in accordance with the recommended priorities.
According to the Chinese embassy in Brunei, the sultanate's Second Minister of Foreign Affairs Haji Erywan attended the handover ceremony on Tuesday and held a discussion with Yu Hong, Chinese ambassador to Brunei.
Haji Erywan expressed his gratitude to China, saying that this is the first batch of COVID-19 vaccine received by Brunei, which is considered a gift given by the Chinese people to the people of Brunei, reflecting the long-term traditional friendship and deep mutual trust between the two countries.
He said that the Chinese vaccine would play an important role for Brunei to overcome the epidemic. Brunei is willing to take the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries and the 30th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations as an opportunity to promote bilateral relations and China-ASEAN relations to a new level, he added.
Ambassador Yu told Haji Erywan that China's COVID-19 vaccine assistance to Brunei reflects a new climax of bilateral cooperation against the COVID-19 pandemic.
"At present, global COVID-19 vaccines are mainly distributed to a few developed countries, although the vaccines are crucial for all countries to restart their economies. Under such circumstances, China's vaccine assistance to Brunei highlights the true friendship between our two countries," the ambassador said during the discussion.
Yu said that China has been earnestly acting on its pledge that once developed and deployed, Chinese vaccines will be made a global public good, contributing to the accessibility and affordability of vaccines in developing countries.
"China is providing vaccine aid to 53 developing countries, and we have exported and are exporting vaccines to 22 countries. China also actively participates in the WHO-led COVAX and decided to provide 10 million doses of vaccines to the program, mainly to meet the demand of developing countries," Yu said.
"China supports domestic companies in conducting joint R&D and manufacturing with foreign partners, and in exporting vaccines to countries that are in urgent need of vaccines, have certified Chinese vaccines, and authorized their emergency use," she added.
According to the ambassador, China's vaccine assistance to Brunei "fully reflects the high level of the China-Brunei strategic cooperative partnership and the true friendship between the two peoples."
Yu expressed hope that the vaccine assistance will help contribute to the final victory of Brunei in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.
Brunei reported one new imported case of COVID-19 on Wednesday, bringing the national tally to 183.
A total of 42 imported cases have been confirmed since the last local infection case on May 6, 2020. At present, Brunei has recorded 280 days without COVID-19 local infection cases. Five active cases are still being treated at the National Isolation Center and all of them are in a stable condition.
There have been three deaths resulted from COVID-19 in Brunei and 175 patients have recovered.