Vietnam rehearses Covid-19 vaccine transport to prepare for mass inoculation

By Huu Khoa, Anh Thu   March 6, 2021 | 08:17 pm GMT+7
A drill to transport AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines took place Friday night in HCMC prior to large-scale administration starting next Monday.
Two staff of the Vietnam Vaccine JSC (VNVC), importer of Covid-19 vaccines to Vietnam, stand outside a freezer where the vaccines are kept.  As required by the vaccine’s developers, British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca and Oxford University, the doses are being kept at a temperature of minus 2-8 degrees Celcius.  VNVN had started work to make a freezer and super-cold storage in Ho Chi Minh City in October and November last year when Vietnam was still in the step of negotiating to buy the vaccine. Last Wednesday, 117,600 doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine arrived in Ho Chi Minh City on a flight from Seoul. They are the first batch of 30 million doses Vietnam had ordered from AstraZeneca.

Two staff of Vietnam Vaccine JSC (VNVC), importer of Covid-19 vaccines to Vietnam, stand outside a freezer where the vaccines are kept.
As required by developers, British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca and Oxford University, the doses are being stored at a temperature of minus 2-8 degrees Celsius. VNVC had started work on a freezer and super-cold storage system in Ho Chi Minh City during October and November last year when Vietnam was still negotiating to buy the vaccine.
Last Wednesday, 117,600 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine arrived in HCMC on a flight from Seoul. They are the first batch of 30 million doses Vietnam had ordered from the company.

A group of staff walks into the freezer. Only those assigned by the firm could enter this area.  After the final one in the group has been in the store, the door is closed by another staff from outside.

Only those assigned by the firm could enter and operate within this area.

Part of the 117,600 vaccine doses inside the freezer.  There is only one path in and out of the area where the vaccines are kept. This area is monitored around the clock via security camera. Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said Friday that after working with South Korea to evaluate the quality of the batch, it is now concluded that the vaccine is eligible for inoculation. He also announced that prioritized groups will be injected with the first batch starting next Monday.

Part of the 117,600 vaccine doses inside the freezer.
There is only one path in and out of the area where the vaccines are kept. This area is monitored around the clock via security cameras.
Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said Friday that after working with South Korea to evaluate the quality of the batch, it is now concluded the vaccine is eligible for inoculation. He also announced prioritized groups would be injected with the first batch starting next Monday.

A staff uses a forklift to practice the step of unloading a shipment that has the same weight of a AstraZeneca vaccine package from a shelf and put it on the ground.  A VNVC representative said the AstraZeneca vaccine requires the same storage conditions and transport process like many other vaccines that are currently in use Vietnam. However, this is a new vaccine that had been imported in a rush situation to curb an ongoing pandemic, all the related processes and procedures must be carried out more carefully to minimize any possible risks that could happen.

A staff member uses a forklift to practice unloading a supposed shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
A VNVC representative said the AstraZeneca vaccine requires the same storage conditions and transport process like many other vaccines currently in use across Vietnam. "However, this is a new vaccine that had been imported in a rush to curb an ongoing pandemic, and that all related processes and procedures must be carried out carefully to minimize any possible risks."

Outside the freezer, a staff places reusable dry ice gel packs into a styrofoam box.Those boxes will store the vaccine doses temporarily when they are transported from the store to specialized trucks that would distribute the vaccine

Outside the freezer, a staff member places reusable dry ice gel packs into a Styrofoam box. Those boxes would store vaccine doses temporarily when transported from storage to specialized distribution trucks.

Each box will have a certain amount of doses depending on the detailed plan of vaccination for each locality as regulated by the Health Ministry.

Each box contains a certain amount of doses depending on the detailed plan of vaccination for each locality as regulated by the Health Ministry.

Tran Han Tuan, 37, head of the warehouse department in southern Vietnam of VNVC, said the truck is parked 2.8 meters away from the freezer’s door and the maximum time for one staff to carry a box of vaccine from the freezer to the truck is just ten second. Therefore all movements must be especially quick and accurate. We have been way too familiar with this step and have yet to make any mistakes but until today we are still quite nervous because the entire nation is counting on this first batch of vaccine, he said.

Tran Han Tuan, 37, head of the VNVC warehouse department in southern Vietnam, said the truck is parked 2.8 meters from the freezer’s door and that loading a box takes only ten seconds. Therefore, "all movements must be especially quick and accurate." "We have yet to make any mistakes, but remain quite nervous since the entire nation is counting on this first batch of vaccines," he noted.

The back door of the truck will be open in only one minute to receive the boxes of vaccine to make sure the quality of the vaccine will not be affected by the outdoor condition.

The back door of the truck will be opened in only one minute to receive the vaccines to ensure their quality remains unaffected by exterior conditions.

A package of vaccine is taken out of the styrofoam box. On the truck, the indoor unit system would stay ready before the vaccine enters. The entire cargo bed is made sure to meet all temperature standards as in the freezer. It has also met the GSP (good storage practice) and GDP (good medicine distribution practice) standards according to regulations of the Health Ministry.

A package of vaccines is taken out of a Styrofoam box.
On the truck, an indoor unit system would be readied before the vaccine enters. The entire cargo bed has been accessed to meet all temperature standards. It has also met GSP (good storage practice) and GDP (good medicine distribution practice) standards according to Health Ministry regulations.

Each package of vaccine is attached with a temperature measuring device. If the temperature exceeds the allowable limit (2-8 degrees Celcius), this device will raise alarm, which means the shipment is not eligible for vaccination.

Each package of vaccines is equipped with a temperature measuring device. If the temperature exceeds the allowable limit (2-8 degrees Celsius), this device will raise an alarm, which means the shipment is not eligible for administration.

The truck leaves the freezer. The value of this truck is more than VND1 billion ($43,405). Two of such trucks will be in use for the upcoming vaccination.For now, the plan said 13 cities and provinces that have recorded community transmissions in the latest community transmission wave that broke out in late January will receive the vaccine first.  They include northern provinces of Hai Duong and Quang Ninh where the outbreak started, and HCMC and Hanoi. The vaccine will be transported by trucks to localities in southern Vietnam and for the rest, it will travel by plane.On Saturday, the Health Ministry will host a conference on the implementation of large-scale vaccination, nationwide training on receiving, using and preserving vaccines, as well as handling post-vaccination complications.  Two days later, those directly treating Covid-19 patients at 18 medical facilities and prioritized categories of people in 13 pandemic-hit localities, with Covid-19 epicenter Hai Duong given the highest priority, will be among the first to be vaccinated. Phan Manh Cuong, director of the health department in Hai Duong, which is now hit hardest by the outbreak, said nine groups in Hai Duong Town and Kim Thanh District will be the first to be vaccinated. The nine groups include doctors treating Covid-19 patients, medical staff taking part in the process of contact tracing, mass testing and those working at centralized quarantined camps. While the production of domestic vaccines is underway, Vietnam has speeded up foreign procurement to inoculate prioritized groups.  The government has said it is stepping up negotiations with vaccine manufacturers in the U.S., Russia and some other countries to ensure it could obtain a total 150 million doses to cover 70 percent of its population.

Two freezer trucks, valued at more than VND1 billion ($43,400) each, will be in use for the upcoming mass vaccination. For now, 13 cities and provinces that have recorded community transmissions in the latest wave will receive the vaccine first. They include northern provinces of Hai Duong and Quang Ninh where the outbreak started on Jan.28, along with HCMC and Hanoi.
The vaccine will be transported by trucks to localities in southern Vietnam and to the rest, by plane.
From Monday, those directly treating Covid-19 patients at 18 medical facilities and prioritized categories of people in 13 pandemic-hit localities, with Covid-19 epicenter Hai Duong given the highest priority, will be among the first to be vaccinated.
While the production of domestic vaccines is underway, Vietnam has speeded up foreign procurement to inoculate prioritized groups. The government has said it is stepping up negotiations with vaccine manufacturers in the U.S., Russia and some other countries to ensure it could obtain a total 150 million doses to cover 70 percent of its population.

 
 
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