Vietnam to get 120 mln Covid-19 vaccine doses this year

By Chi Le, Hoang Thuy, Viet Tuan   June 3, 2021 | 06:07 am PT
Vietnam to get 120 mln Covid-19 vaccine doses this year
A medical worker extracts an AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine dose at a medical center of Quang Tri, May 13, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Tao.
Vietnam will receive more than 120 million Covid-19 vaccine doses this year from multiple sources, according to the Ministry of Health.

Of the vaccines to arrive in 2021, global vaccine access mechanism Covax would provide 38.9 million doses for free. Vietnam received around 2.5 million doses from Covax in April and May, all produced by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca.

Vietnam has also ordered 30 million doses from AstraZeneca on its own, and has received over 400,000 doses.

The health ministry has also reached an agreement with Russia to get 20 million doses of the Sputnik V vaccine within this year, though the exact time frames for the receipt have not been announced.

The ministry said it has also successfully struck deals with Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech. Moderna said it would allow Asian pharmaceutical firm Zuellig Pharma to distribute five million doses to Vietnam in May, and HCMC has said it would purchase those doses.

Pfizer/BioNTech said it expects to provide Vietnam with around 31 million doses in the third and fourth quarters, with half the quantity delivered each quarter.

Vietnam currently aims to secure 150 million Covid-19 vaccicne doses to cover 70 percent of its population by this year, the health ministry has announced earlier. The ministry had said that it would not only seek multiple sources for the Covid-19 vaccines, but also strive to be a part of the vaccine tech transfer process so Vietnam could produce the vaccines itself.

For example, Vietnamese vaccine firm Vabiotech said it has cooperated with Russia to begin creating vials for Sputnik V this July, with an expected capacity of around five million doses a month. Russia said it may transfer its vaccine production technology to Vietnam in the future.

Deputy health minister Truong Quoc Cuong said Thursday that Vietnam has been promised 170 million vaccine doses in total, but did not mention further about the delivery of the additional 50 million doses.

Cuong said Vietnam has managed to gain access to the necessary number of vaccine doses, but during negotiations with manufacturers, they’ve all said they cannot guarantee that the delivery can be made on time. Vietnam has had to accept this possibility, he said.

"Vietnam might have early access to the vaccines, but is not prioritized in the distribution process as we've contained the pandemic well," Cuong said, adding that the bulk of the doses should arrive starting August.

Cuong also said businesses and local authorities may lend a hand by either contributing to the national Covid-19 vaccine fund or directly importing the vaccines themselves from reputed sources.

"To ensure that the vaccines are maintained at their best quality, businesses need to buy them directly from manufacturers instead of through a third party," he added.

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