Vietnam to import first batch of 204,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses

By Chi Nguyen   February 17, 2021 | 07:07 pm PT
Vietnam to import first batch of 204,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses
A health worker opens a box containing the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in France. Photo by AFP.
The Health Ministry has approved the import of 204,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine this month to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

This would be the first batch out of 30 million doses of vaccine that Vietnam had previously ordered to buy. The vaccine is developed by British-Swedish company AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University.

The Drug Administration of Vietnam under the Ministry of Health on Wednesday allowed AstraZeneca Vietnam Company Limited to import the doses under emergent circumstances to help fight against Covid-19 pandemic which has turned more complicated in Vietnam.

Truong Quoc Cuong, Deputy Minister of Health, said the producer had announced that the batch would arrive in Vietnam on February 23, but then changed it to February 28 due to procedure issues.

"Whether the vaccine batch would arrive in Vietnam as scheduled depends on the producer's completion of procedures and flight arrangement," Cuong said.

The health ministry on February 1 approved AstraZeneca vaccine for domestic inoculation. Currently, this vaccine is licensed for one-year circulation or conditional import in the Philippines, Thailand, the U.K., Vietnam and some other countries to help fight Covid-19.

The ministry earlier said doctors and other staff in frequent contact with Covid-19 patients or suspected infectees will be among the first to be vaccinated.

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.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said importing Covid-19 vaccines should be a foremost priority of the government, while calling for quick research progress on domestic Covid-19 vaccines as well.

Vietnam is also expected to receive 4.9 million vaccine doses by the end of this month, provided via Covax, a global mechanism for developing, manufacturing and procuring Covid-19 vaccine candidates and help member countries access vaccines as they become available.

Vietnam has four domestic Covid-19 vaccines developed by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC, the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals, the Vaccine and Biological Production Company No. 1 and the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals.

Nanocovax, produced by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC, has finished its first phase of human trials and is expected to begin the second one this month. Covivac of the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals is expected to commence human trials this month as well.

Vietnam has been struggling with a wave of Covid-19 outbreak since January 28 after 55 clean days in a row, with 737 community transmissions recorded in 13 localities, including major cities Hanoi and HCMC.

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