Businesses seek to buy Covid-19 vaccines for employees

By Thi Ha   June 5, 2021 | 08:30 pm PT
Businesses seek to buy Covid-19 vaccines for employees
Vials of Nanocovax, a Vietnamese Covid-19 vaccine produced by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Company. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Enterprises in Vietnam are searching for Covid-19 vaccines sources through authorities and qualified suppliers to inoculate their workers.

A spokesperson for Vietnam's largest brewer Sabeco, who did not want to be named, told VnExpress that they were working with both authorities and distributors to acquire vaccine doses to vaccinate the 12,000 employees they have in 44 member companies.

Private conglomerate Masan Group has also said it is searching for vaccine supplies to inoculate 40,000 employees, adding that vaccination priority will be accorded to retail sector workers.

VinCommerce, a subsidiary of Masan Group, has sent an official dispatch to the government seeking vaccination priority for workers of its VinMart supermarket chain as "the retail sector is the distributor of essential goods", said deputy CEO Nguyen Thi Phuong.

It is also searching for vaccines from international suppliers so that it can vaccinate the workers as soon as possible, she said.

Many manufacturers of consumer products in HCMC have said they are working with the Ministry of Health to procure vaccines. Most enterprises are willing to pay to get their workforce vaccinated, apart from covering warehousing and transportation costs.

Nguyen Chanh Phuong, vice chairman of the Handicraft and Wood Industry Association of Ho Chi Minh City (HAWA), said the association was cooperating with some companies qualified to import Covid-19 vaccines into Vietnam to secure supplies. Over 80 companies in the industry have registered to buy vaccines for more than 45,000 people.

"We [HAWA] are rushing negotiations with vaccine suppliers. Enterprises who sign up early will receive the vaccines first when they arrive," Phuong said.

He asked companies to thoroughly prepare financing for the procurement so that inoculation can be carried out as per health ministry regulations as soon as the vaccines arrive.

The Vietnam Textile and Apparel Association (VITAS) is negotiating the purchase of over one million Covid-19 vaccine doses to inoculate its workers.

However, Phuong of HAWA said enterprises face difficulties in acquiring vaccines because the health ministry has not provided instructions on preserving the vaccines.

"The three problems are vaccine supply, preservation method and cold storage. Vaccines have to be kept at minus 70-75 degrees Celsius. Thus, if enterprises are able to buy vaccines but do not know how to preserve them correctly, their effectiveness cannot be guaranteed," said the leader of a consumer products maker in HCMC who did not want to be named.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said at a meeting Friday that enterprises must be cautious when seeking vaccines to avoid being scammed. He said vaccine producers have only agreed to sell their products to the government, as of now.

"The government will ensure enough vaccine supply, so enterprises should not rush to buy vaccines on their own," he said, adding that for any company that is able to acquire vaccines before September this year, the government will consider granting an import license within five days.

Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long recently said the Ministry has provided incentive policies for localities and enterprises to seek Covid-19 vaccine sources, and will create favourable conditions for their imports, quality testing and licensing.

As of June 2, a total of 36 companies and organisations have been qualified to import and preserve vaccines, including Covid-19 vaccines.

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