Vietnam may receive 30 mln Pfizer doses as it diversifies Covid-19 vaccine sources

By Viet Tuan   March 17, 2021 | 04:00 pm PT
Vietnam may receive 30 mln Pfizer doses as it diversifies Covid-19 vaccine sources
A health worker administers the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine at a vaccination center in Nice, France, March 13, 2021. Photo by Reuters/Eric Gaillard.
U.S. pharmaceutical firm Pfizer may provide Vietnam with 30 million Covid-19 vaccine doses within 2021 as negotiations with the health ministry continue, Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said Wednesday.

Vietnam is still negotiating with manufacturers in the U.S., Russia and other countries as part of an effort to diversify Covid-19 vaccine sources, said Long. The country aims to obtain a total 150 million doses this year to cover 70 percent of its population.

Besides imports, Vietnam is also developing its own domestic vaccines. Nanocovax, produced by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC, began the second phase of human trials last month, while Covivax, produced by the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals, only entered the first phase of human trials Monday.

The Ministry of Health aims to hasten the development of domestic Covid-19 vaccines so they could be used in 2022, Long stressed.

Vietnam has ordered 30 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca, with 117,600 having arrived late last month. The country will receive over five million additional AstraZeneca vaccine doses through global access mechanism Covax, UNICEF and other contracts by April. The country expects around 60 million AstraZeneca doses within 2021.

Vietnam began its mass Covid-19 vaccination campaign on March 8, prioritized for frontline workers in the Covid-19 fight. So far, 24,054 people in 12 cities and provinces have received their first shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Several of these have suffered complications including high fever, blood pressure and anaphylaxis, but experts said the ratio of people with side effects is "within expected levels."

The AstraZeneca vaccine, which has been approved for use in over 70 countries and territories, has raised global concerns as cases of deaths and blood clots were recorded in several nations following inoculation. About a dozen countries, including France, Denmark, Italy and Germany, have temporarily suspended using the vaccine as a precautionary measure.

AstraZeneca and European Medicines Agency have said there has been no evidence to prove the vaccine caused blood clots, and stressed its benefits far outweigh the risk of contracting Covid-19.

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