Enough vaccines for priority groups via Covax, health ministry confirms

By Viet Tuan   April 27, 2021 | 05:56 am PT
Enough vaccines for priority groups via Covax, health ministry confirms
A nurse gets the AstraZeneca vaccine from a vial at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Hanoi, March 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
The Covax facility will provide Vietnam with almost 9 million additional doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, allowing the nation to vaccinate all frontline workers.

The Global Covid-19 Vaccine Facility (Covax) will supply Vietnam with 38.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine instead of the 30 million pledged earlier, the Ministry of Health said in a report sent Monday to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

Covax is a global mechanism in the development, manufacturing, and procurement of Covid-19 vaccine candidates, facilitating and supporting member countries to access vaccines as they become available.

Under the plan that Vietnam has already unveiled and is implementing, besides frontline medical workers, medical staff, the military and the police, the priority list for Covid-19 vaccination include teachers, diplomatic personnel, customs and immigration officers, those working in essential services like transport, people aged 65 and above, the poor, and those with chronic diseases.

People seeking to study or work abroad or living in pandemic-hit areas are also in the list.

The ministry said in the report that the nation now has 19.4 million people in priority groups, with HCMC accounting for the most at 1.56 million.

The demand for the free vaccine among the priority groups, however, could be lower than expected because some are reluctant to receive it, the ministry noted.

Aside from the vaccine provided by Covax, Vietnam has secured a deal to have Vietnam Vaccine JSC (VNVC) buy 30 million doses from British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca.

Of these, 117,600 doses have been delivered.

The ministry has sought permission from the government to offer commercial vaccination to provide for those wanting it to serve the purpose of achieving herd immunity in the country.

"Despite proposing that private investors be allowed to import and commercialize the use of vaccines, the Ministry of Health remains the pillar for general direction and orientation of the vaccination plan," a senior ministry official told VnExpress on condition of anonymity.

The ministry first asked for support from the Covax Facility last year and in December, Covax confirmed that it would provide vaccines enough for 20 percent of Vietnam’s population, which currently is around 96 million.

But later, the facility said it will only provide Vietnam with 30 million doses. The ministry continued to negotiate and ask for more; and has recently struck a deal at 38.9 million doses.

Before Covax agreed to raise the number of vaccines it would give Vietnam, the Health Ministry had planned to buy ten million doses from the VNVC.

With the latest development, that plan has been called off.

So far, around 260,000 Vietnamese have been inoculated against Covid-19 with the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca. Most are frontline workers in the Covid-19 fight, including doctors, nurses, soldiers and police officers.

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