China promises to prioritize Mekong nations for Covid-19 vaccine

By Minh Nga   August 25, 2020 | 03:32 pm GMT+7
China promises to prioritize Mekong nations for Covid-19 vaccine
An engineer shows an experimental vaccine for Covid-19 that was tested at the Quality Control Laboratory at the Sinovac Biotech facilities, Beijing, April 29, 2020. Photo by AFP/Nicolas Asfouri.
Vietnam and other Mekong countries will receive priority once China completes developing a Covid-19 vaccine, the Chinese premier said Monday.

Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam are first in line to get the vaccine, Premier Li Keqiang told the third Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) leaders' meeting, held online due to Covid-19 constraints, Chinese state media reported.

He added China would set up special public health funds under Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Special Fund, and continue to provide Mekong countries anti-epidemic and technical support.

Li promoted cooperation in fighting the pandemic, saying China is ready to support the World Health Organization.

On August 22, China granted emergency use authorization to multiple Covid-19 vaccines developed by domestic drug makers. For now, it has only supplied these vaccines to those at high-risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, including front-line medical staff and border guards.

In the near future, the vaccine program will be expanded to staff in the sectors of transportation, service, and vendors to "first build an immunity barrier among special population groups" to prevent a wave of infections in the fall and winter, Zheng Zhongwei, head of China’s coronavirus vaccine development program, told Chinese state TV Saturday.

Yet China’s latest vaccine developments are viewed with doubt, with Papua New Guinea recently saying it had turned back a group of Chinese miners who had received an experimental coronavirus vaccine.

Researchers around the world have been developing 150 potential vaccines, of which eight types have proceeded to end-stage clinical trials. Only two vaccines have been approved (mass and emergency) in Russia and China.

Vietnam’s Health Ministry said earlier this month it had registered to buy the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Russia.

The ministry said it had also registered to buy the vaccine being developed by the U.K. and was cooperating with other vaccine producers worldwide, including in the U.S., to seek assistance in the production of a Covid-19 vaccine in Vietnam.

Vietnamese labs are working hard to get a Covid-19 vaccine ready for clinical trial by the end of this year.

Covid-19 vaccines produced by four Vietnamese institutions – Vaccine and Biological Production No. 1 (VABIOTECH), the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals (POLYVAC), the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC), and Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology – have shown positive initial results.

The ministry had said earlier Vietnam aims to have a Covid-19 vaccine by 2021.

Since July 25, when Vietnam's first local Covid-19 transmission in over three months was recorded in Da Nang, outbreaks have occurred in 15 localities, with 540 domestic infections as of Tuesday morning.

The nation has so far reported 27 Covid-19 deaths.

 
 
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