BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The Australian government has donated 100,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Brunei, with the shipment touching down in the sultanate Friday night.

“Australia is pleased to assist Brunei’s COVID-19 response,” said Australia’s Deputy High Commissioner Chintana Vongpaseut, who handed over the vaccines to Pg Datin Shzainah Pg DP Shariffuddin, permanent secretary at Brunei’s foreign affairs ministry. 

“Sharing Australian-manufactured vaccines with Brunei is a further demonstration of how Australia is stepping up to ensure those in our region, including Brunei, have access to safe and effective vaccines.”

Australia is the fourth country to donate vaccines to the sultanate, with Singapore, China and Japan each contributing 100,000 doses in the past month to help Brunei deal with a vaccine shortage.

Singapore’s delivery of 100,000 Moderna doses was used in a matter of days, with the government later having to suspend the provision of first dose jabs because vaccines were in short supply. 

The three other donations pledged in the past week — from China, Japan and Australia — will allow Brunei to resume first dose vaccinations after a two week hiatus. 

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison holds a vial of AstraZeneca vaccine during a visit to the CSL serum lab in Melbourne on Feb. 12, 2021. Photo: AAP Image/POOL, David Caird

Australia has a domestic manufacturing facility that has a contract to produce 50 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, currently surplus to the country’s requirements after the government changed its advice to prefer Pfizer for people aged 16 to 60 years.

Australia said it will donate any extra vaccines not used domestically, and has already provided 300,000 to the Pacific and to Timor-Leste.