JAKARTA－Timor-Leste began vaccinating people with China's Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine in the country's capital Dili on Monday.
Aniceto Guterres Lopes, speaker of the Timor-Leste National Parliament, Chinese Ambassador to Timor-Leste Xiao Jianguo, and other officials from the Timor-Leste government attended the launch ceremony at the National University of Timor-Leste.
Xiao said the vaccination program coincided with the Dragon Boat Festival in China, a traditional event for people to pray for health, safety and well-being. He said the Sinovac vaccine, a testament to friendship between the two nations, could play an important and constructive role in Timor-Leste's fight against COVID-19.
The target groups for the Sinovac vaccine in Timor-Leste are teachers, students and faculty staff aged 18 and above. This will help restore the normal operation of the country's education institutions as classes are suspended in all schools due to the pandemic.
Aniceto Guterres Lopes expressed his gratitude to China for offering all kinds of help since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and expected enhancement of anti-epidemic cooperation between the two countries.
Timor-Leste's Minister of Defense Filomeno da Paixao, Secretary of State for Youth and Sport Abrao Saldanha, and representatives of teachers and students received their first COVID-19 vaccine shot after the ceremony.
The "Spring Sprout" program also began in Timor-Leste on Monday, during which Chinese nationals in Timor-Leste are prioritized to get vaccinated with China-donated vaccines.
In Malaysia, the government granted conditional approval for emergency use of the single dose COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by China's CanSino Biologics and US drugmaker Johnson& Johnson.
The Southeast Asian country has been ramping up its vaccination program amid a fresh round of lockdowns imposed this month to curb a surge in coronavirus infections.
Malaysia has secured a total of 79.5 million vaccines, enough to cover nearly 125 percent of its population, including those manufactured by Anglo-Swedish drugmaker Astra-Zeneca and Chinese firm Sinovac.
A total of 3.28 million people, about 10 percent of the population, have received at least one dose as of Monday, government records show.