Health ministry warns of fake coronavirus vaccine sales

By Le Nga, Nguyen Quy   March 10, 2021 | 11:04 pm PT
Health ministry warns of fake coronavirus vaccine sales
A man receives his first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Hanoi, March 8, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
As Vietnam started rolling out its mass Covid-19 inoculation campaign, the Health Ministry has warned citizens to be vigilant of counterfeit coronavirus vaccines.

Some domestic and international organizations and businesses had contacted the ministry recently to sell Covid-19 vaccines produced by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca and U.S. company Moderna though none had been officially authorized by the producers, the ministry said.

AstraZeneca wrote to the ministry on March 1, saying that besides global initiative Covax, UNICEF and Vietnam Vaccine JSC, the biopharmaceutical company did not authorize any other business, individual or organization to supply its Covid-19 vaccine in Vietnam.

Similarly, Moderna stated it had not yet authorized any units to sell or import Covid-19 vaccines for Vietnam.

Concerning the Russian Sputnik V vaccine produced by Generium JSC, the Russian Embassy in Vietnam said any purchase, sale, import or cooperation need to occur directly with the Russian Direct Investment Fund.

Meanwhile, China and India both confirmed the purchase and import of vaccines must be approved by the government.

To ensure access for all Vietnamese, the health ministry encouraged all eligible businesses to approach and negotiate with suppliers around the world to import vaccines for domestic inoculation.

However, the ministry called on businesses to be prudent and proactive in verifying information and ensuring legal, financial and commercial safety. In case of necessity, businesses could seek help from the Ministries of Health, Public Security and Foreign Affairs to verify information related to the Covid-19 vaccine supply.

Interpol earlier this month highlighted the possible threat of fake Covid-19 vaccine sales after police in China and South Africa seized thousands of doses of counterfeit products.

Interpol has repeatedly stressed coronavirus vaccines cannot be bought or sold over the Internet and has urged the public to report such cases of criminal activity.

Vietnam began its vaccination campaign Monday, starting with prioritized categories including frontline workers in 13 cities and provinces that had recently faced coronavirus outbreaks.

It has ordered 30 million doses from British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca, with around 117,600 arriving late last month.

The country will receive another 4.1 million AstraZeneca doses through Covax by April.

The Health Ministry has also approved Moderna and Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccines for emergency use.

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