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Importer to hand 30 mln Covid-19 vaccine doses to health ministry

By Le Nga   March 10, 2021 | 11:42 pm PT
Importer to hand 30 mln Covid-19 vaccine doses to health ministry
A batch of Covid-19 vaccine is transported from cold storage at the Vietnam Vaccine JSC (VNVC) to the HCMC Hospital for Tropical Diseases for vaccination, March 8, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
The 30 million AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses bought by Vietnam Vaccine JSC (VNVC) would be handed over to the Ministry of Health on a non-profit basis.

VNVC had ordered 30 million Covid-19 vaccine doses from British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca, with the first batch of 117,600 doses having arrived last month. The batch, produced by South Korean firm SK Bioscience, is being kept in VNVC cold storage to be distributed to 13 cities and provinces with recent coronavirus outbreaks. The Covid-19 inoculation campaign started Monday.

A committee comprising multiple ministries on Wednesday suggested the 30 million vaccine doses be handed to the Health Ministry on a non-profit basis, with all associated costs like taxes, insurance and transportation covered. All extra fees incurred prior to the transfer would be paid by VNVC.

While exact fees have yet to be disclosed, a $30 million deposit as per the firm's purchase contract has been confirmed.

VNVC and AstraZeneca first began negotiations back in the second quarter of 2020, when the AstraZeneca vaccine had entered its third phase of human trials. For the past six months, VNVC has been developing its own cold chain and storage equipment to house the vaccines, besides training personnel on how to handle them properly.

Its handover means the ministry will actively handle the vaccination process.

Besides the 30 million doses ordered, Vietnam would receive an additional 4.1 million, also from AstraZeneca, via global vaccine access mechanism Covax by April. Another 25.9 million doses would be transported to Vietnam, also through Covax, between August and November.

Vietnam is also negotiating with other vaccine manufacturers in the U.S., Russia and some other countries to ensure it could obtain a total 150 million doses this year to cover 70 percent of its population.

The coronavirus tally so far in Vietnam is 2,529, with 486 active cases.

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