First Covid-19 vaccine doses arrive in Vietnam

By Thu Anh   February 23, 2021 | 07:03 pm PT
First Covid-19 vaccine doses arrive in Vietnam
A medic holds a box of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine vials. Photo by AFP/Alain Jocard.
The first batch of 117,600 doses of Oxford/AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine arrived in HCMC's Tan Son Nhat Airport on Wednesday morning.

Vietnam Vaccine JSC (VNVC) said it had signed the deal for importing the batch with AstraZeneca last November, without revealing further details pleading security conditions the British-Swedish firm has imposed.

The import of the first batch was advanced following a new outbreak in late January that has spread to 13 cities and provinces.

Last week the Health Ministry approved the import of 204,000 doses within this month.

Vietnam has ordered 30 million doses from AstraZeneca.

It is not yet clear who will get the doses that have arrived, but the ministry had said earlier that frontline Covid-19 workers, teachers and people working in aviation and tourism will be among the first to get vaccinated.

The government has waived duties and the vaccines will get priority clearance to make sure they reach VNVC as fast as possible. The company has set up cold storage units in HCMC, Da Nang and Hanoi to store three million doses at a time.

Covax, a global mechanism for developing, manufacturing and procuring Covid-19 vaccine candidates that help member countries access vaccines as they become available, has pledged to provide Vietnam with 4.9 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in the first half.

Around 33 million doses will arrive in the second half of this year.

It is stepping up negotiations with the U.S.’s Pfizer and Moderna, along with other vaccine manufacturers in Russia and some other countries to ensure it can get a total of 150 million doses in 2021, to cover 70 percent of its 98-million population.

Four indigenous vaccines are under development by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC, the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals, Vaccine and Biological Production Company No. 1, and the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals.

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