Vietnam needs 150 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in 2021: health minister

By Thuy An   February 19, 2021 | 04:15 am PT
Vietnam needs 150 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in 2021: health minister
A nurse prepares a dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine at a mass vaccination center in Surrey, Britain, Jan. 11, 2021. Photo by AFP.
Vietnam has negotiated to secure 60 million out of 150 million Covid-19 vaccine doses needed for this year to cover 70 percent of its 98-million population.

The Ministry of Health had negotiated with Covax, a global mechanism for developing, manufacturing and procuring Covid-19 vaccine candidates that help member countries access vaccines as they become available, to provide the country with 30 million vaccine doses this year, Minister Nguyen Thanh Long told a Friday meeting.

In addition, British company AstraZeneca has pledged to provide Vietnam with around 30 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine this year, he added.

The first batch of 204,000 vaccine doses is scheduled to arrive in the country on Feb. 28.

Besides the deal with AstraZeneca, Vietnam is also stepping up negotiations with the U.S.’s Pfizer and Moderna, along with other vaccine manufacturers in Russia and some other countries to ensure a total of 150 million vaccine doses for 70 percent of the country's population this year, Long said.

Vietnam is currently aiming at mass Covid-19 vaccination for its population.

Regarding the use of vaccines, Long said the ministry would comply with World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations and legal regulations related to the prevention of infectious diseases, including priority to high-risk areas.

Earlier, the health ministry stated doctors and other staff in frequent contact with Covid-19 patients or those suspected of being infected will be among the first to be vaccinated.

Others on the priority list will be the elderly and those with chronic diseases that make them more vulnerable if infected, and diplomatic personnel.

In another move, the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) under the Ministry of Transport has proposed aviation industry employees be listed among the first people to be vaccinated.

Those who are passenger check-in officers, cargo handling staff, flight attendants, pilots, and air traffic controllers should be subject to the shots due to the high risk of Covid-19 infection, it said.

CAAV also proposed domestic airlines for the transportation of vaccines to Vietnam.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said importing Covid-19 vaccines should be a foremost government priority, while calling for quick research progress on domestic Covid-19 vaccines as well.

Vietnam has four domestic Covid-19 vaccines under development and trial by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC, the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals, the Vaccine and Biological Production Company No. 1 and the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals.

Nanocovax, produced by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC, has completed its first phase of human trials and is expected to begin the second this month. Covivac of the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals is expected to commence human trials this month too.

Vietnam has been struggling with a wave of Covid-19 outbreaks since Jan. 28 after 55 clean days in a row, with 755 community transmissions recorded in 13 localities, including Hanoi and HCMC.

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