Vietnam seeks to vaccinate children against Covid-19

By Le Nga, Chi Le   June 9, 2021 | 02:59 pm GMT+7
Vietnam seeks to vaccinate children against Covid-19
Batches of Covid-19 vaccine doses at a warehouse in HCMC, June 1, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.
Vietnam is negotiating with other countries to secure Covid-19 vaccine doses for children aged 12-18, with the Pfizer vaccine a potential candidate.

In a meeting with ambassadors from Australia, France and Switzerland, Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said one of Vietnam's priorities in the Covid-19 fight is early and expansive access to Covid-19 vaccine sources, a project to which the three countries could contribute.

He further requested the nations to cooperate with global vaccine access mechanism Covax in delivering Covid-19 vaccines to the country.

Australian ambassador to Vietnam Robyn Mudie said the country had contributed AUD130 million ($100.5 million) to Covax, and would provide AUD40 million to Vietnam's Covid-19 vaccine program over three years to secure the necessary doses. She said Australia hoped it could directly provide Covid-19 vaccine doses to Vietnam in another half year.

Long added Vietnam wishes to expand its Covid-19 vaccination recipient list to include children between 12-18, and suggested AUD13.5 million out of the aforementioned AUD40 million could be used to purchase Pfizer vaccines for this purpose.

U.S. pharmaceutical firm Pfizer on Tuesday announced it would begin trialing its Covid-19 vaccine on 4,500 children under 12 at over 90 medical facilities in the U.S., Poland, Finland and Spain. The vaccine has already been approved for use on children over 12 in Europe, the U.S. and Canada, Reuters reported.

On vaccinating expats in Vietnam against Covid-19, Long said due to shortages, shots would be prioritized for certain categories like frontline workers in the Covid-19 fight or people living in coronavirus-hit areas.

"Embassies could import Covid-19 vaccine doses through non-commercial routes to vaccinate their own citizens. Vietnam would support the necessary procedures and vaccine evaluation, and if needed, provide them free vaccination," Long stated.

Swiss ambassador to Vietnam Ivo Sieber said the country has contributed enough money to buy 3 million Covid-19 vaccine doses via Covax and provide technological support to developing countries. Swiss pharmaceutical firms are ready to support Vietnam in its Covid-19 fight, including accessing vaccine sources.

In response, Long said he wishes two pharmaceutical firms, DKSH and Zuellig Pharma, would hasten the process of supplying Vietnam with Covid-19 vaccine doses. Zuellig Pharma has been designated by Moderna to supply 5 million of its Covid-19 vaccines to Vietnam, where they would be received in Ho Chi Minh City.

French ambassador Nicolas Warnery proposed Vietnam import the Covid-19 vaccine produced by Johnson & Johnson and vaccinate French citizens in Vietnam, prioritizing those above 55. Long supported France's suggestion, adding he wished Vietnam and France could discuss technological transfer to help Vietnam develop and produce its own Covid-19 vaccines.

Vietnam is pushing for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine to be approved for emergency use, the Ministry of Health announced Tuesday. Vu Tuan Cuong, head of the Drug Administration of Vietnam under the health ministry, said the administration is also in discussion to approve other Covid-19 vaccines like those produced by Moderna or Johnson & Johnson for emergency use.

So far, Vietnam has approved three types of Covid-19 vaccines for emergency use: one by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca, one by China's Sinopharm and the Sputnik V vaccine from Russia.

The country's vaccination campaign started on March 8 targetting adults above 18. It has vaccinated over 1.3 million people against Covid-19 using the AstraZeneca jab, of whom over 38,000 have been given two shots.

It aims to secure 150 million vaccine doses this year to cover 70 percent of its population.

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