Vietnam prioritizes Covid-19 vaccines for medics, diplomats

By Hoang Thuy, Viet Tuan   February 2, 2021 | 06:01 am PT
Vietnam prioritizes Covid-19 vaccines for medics, diplomats
A nurse prepares a shot of Vietnamese Covid-19 vaccine candidate Nanocovax during human trials in Hanoi, December 17, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Doctors and other staff in frequent contact with Covid-19 patients or suspected infectees will be among the first to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Other people on the priority list will be the elderly and those with chronic diseases that make them more vulnerable if they get infected, and officials in the diplomatic service, officials said at a government news briefing Tuesday.

AstraZeneca PLC, a British–Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company with its headquarters in Cambridge, England, signed a deal Monday to supply Vietnam 30 million doses in the first half of this year for domestic inoculation.

Other details of the deal, including pricing and delivering timings, have not been confirmed.

"We are still negotiating but we will try to get the vaccine as soon as possible. What stands in the way now is that the European Union is limiting the export of vaccines," said Deputy Minister of Health Tran Van Thuan.

The Health Ministry has stepped up negotiations with the U.S.’s Pfizer and Moderna as well as other vaccine manufacturers in Russia and China.

"It is expected we will have our own vaccines late this year and early next year. By then, along with the imported vaccines, we will have enough doses to provide for the people," Thuan said.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked the Health Ministry to prioritize the study and manufacture of vaccines by Vietnamese companies and institutes, said Chairman of the Government’s Office Mai Tien Dung.

Imports are a backup plan for the time that Vietnam is yet to get its own vaccines, he said.

Ngo Chi Dung, CEO of Vietnam Vaccine Joint Stock Company, said distribution of the AstraZeneca PLC in Vietnam should be "concessionary," allowing everyone to access it. The AstraZeneca vaccine is developed in partnership with Oxford University and is said to be cheaper than other products at $3-4 per dose.

Also, it can be stored at fridge temperature, which makes it easier to transport and use, particularly in developing countries.The vaccine is said to have a prevention rate of 62-90 percent.

Other Vietnamese vaccines

Trials for Nanocovax, the first developed in the country to be tested on humans, began on December 17. The vaccine has been deemed safe, but its efficacy against Covid-19 awaits a final assessment.

Covivac, produced by the ministry’s Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals, has been approved for testing on humans and the trials are scheduled to begin after the week-long Lunar New Year holiday that peaks on February 12.

Two other vaccines are under development by the Vaccine and Biological Production Company No. 1 and the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals.

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