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Vietnam discusses purchase deal as Pfizer says no to price negotiation

By Viet Tuan   May 17, 2021 | 08:40 pm PT
Vietnam discusses purchase deal as Pfizer says no to price negotiation
A healthcare worker prepares a Pfizer coronavirus disease vaccination shot in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 7, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Lucy Nicholson.
The government is collecting opinions on buying the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine as the producer has refused to negotiate on the price.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said Monday that selected government members will have to contribute ideas on the deal to come up with a solution for Vietnam to acquire the vaccine developed by U.S.-based firm Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech Inc.

Aside from the Government Office, the Ministries of Health, Planning and Investment and Justice will give feedback on the matter.

But Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said Monday that: "Pfizer does not agree to negotiate on the price and other conditions of the contract, and Vietnam has to respond to Pfizer no later than Tuesday."

The price of the deal has not been disclosed by now.

PM Chinh said buying Covid-19 vaccine is essential and urgent and that the Health Ministry is in charge of choosing what kinds of vaccine Vietnam would buy.

"This is an emergency situation that should be dealt with immediately," said Chinh.

He assigned the Ministry of Planning and Investment to assess the method of acquiring the Pfizer vaccine as proposed by the Ministry of Health, as well as to come up with a draft solution on choosing a contractor for the deal in line with Vietnam's law and report to the PM.

The Health Ministry said last Friday that it has reached agreements to have 110 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine provided for Vietnam in 2021.

Of the sum, there will be 31 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, developed from the messenger RNA or mRNA, which contains the instructions for human cells to construct a harmless piece of the coronavirus called the spike protein, the ministry said without revealing further details on the contract.

For the remaining doses, 38.9 million of AstraZeneca vaccine, produced by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca and Oxford University, will be provided to Vietnam via the global vaccine access mechanism Covax, which is backed by the World Health Organization to distribute vaccines to low- and middle-income countries. Around 2.5 million doses under this program have arrived in Vietnam.

Aside from the vaccine provided by Covax, Vietnam had already secured a deal to have Vietnam Vaccine JSC (VNVC) buy 30 million doses from AstraZeneca. Of these, 117,600 doses have been delivered.

Besides, the ministry has also registered to buy about 10 million additional doses through Covax under the cost-sharing scheme to enjoy the lower prices.

Vietnam began its own Covid-19 inoculation program on March 8 after using the AstraZeneca vaccine that arrived either through contracts or Covax.

So far, over 977,032 people have been inoculated, mainly frontline workers of the Covid-19 fight and medics at local hospitals.

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