Vietnam to buy Russian Covid-19 vaccine

By Chi Nguyen   August 14, 2020 | 03:56 pm PT
Vietnam to buy Russian Covid-19 vaccine
A scientist prepares samples during the research and development of a vaccine against the Covid-19 at a laboratory of BIOCAD biotechnology company in Saint Petersburg, Russia, June 11, 2020. Photo by Reuters.
The Health Ministry said Friday night it has registered for buying the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Russia.

The agreement comes as Vietnam deals with a fresh Covid-19 outbreak that has claimed 22 lives so far, after losing no life the first time around.

Vu Tuan Cuong, head of the health ministry's Vietnam Drug Administration, made the proposal for obtaining the vaccine and it was approved by the ministry.

The ministry said it has also registered to buy the vaccine being developed by the U.K. and is cooperating with other vaccine producers worldwide, including in the U.S., to register for their vaccine and to seek assistance in the production of Covid-19 vaccine in Vietnam.

Do Tuan Dat, head of the Vaccine and Biological Production Company No.1 (VABIOTECH), which is working on developing an indigenous Covid-19 vaccine, said his company had no plan to order the Russian Covid-19 vaccine yet.

He said it was necessary to understand how effective the vaccine is before making a decision on purchasing it.

Dat added that the company would approach all countries that have successfully produced vaccines with widely publicized research showing good results.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Russia had become the first country to grant regulatory approval to a Covid-19 vaccine after less than two months of human testing, Reuters reported.

The vaccine, called "Sputnik V" in tribute to the world’s first satellite launched by the Soviet Union, has raised concerns among some experts who fear Moscow may be putting national prestige before safety, the Reuters report said.

Vietnam's acting Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long had said at a recent meeting that Vietnamese labs were working hard to get a Covid-19 vaccine ready for clinical trials on humans at the end of this year.

Covid-19 vaccines produced by four Vietnamese institutions – Vaccine and Biological Production No. 1 (VABIOTECH), the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals (POLYVAC), the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC), and Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology – have shown initial positive results.

The ministry had said earlier that Vietnam aims to have a Covid-19 vaccine by 2021.

Since July 25, when Vietnam's first local Covid-19 transmission in over three months was recorded in Da Nang, outbreaks have occurred in 15 localities, with 461 domestic infections as of Saturday morning. Since then, Vietnam has reported 22 deaths.

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