Vietnam stepping up vaccine activities

February 23, 2021 | 12:01
While pushing ahead with locally-made vaccine trials and production, Vietnam is calling on private involvement and resources to quickly increase COVID-19 vaccine supply amid the global health crisis.  
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Vietnam’s previous epidemic encounters have given it experience to build a confident vaccine strategy. Photo: AFP

At an online meeting with cities and provinces on COVID-19 on February 19, Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thanh Long, Minister of Health, said that in 2021 Vietnam has negotiated for 60 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“In 2021, to ensure enough vaccines for the people, Vietnam needs 150 million doses. The COVAX facility has committed to supply 30 million doses this year, mainly used for the remaining six months of the year. AstraZeneca also committed to supply the same doses,” Long added.

“We encourage units with COVID-19 vaccine sources to discuss with the Ministry of Health (MoH) on the import issue to increase the sources of vaccines,” he emphasised. “The ministry is striving to provide enough vaccines for the citizens.”

According to the MoH, while pushing the trials and production of locally-made COVID-19 vaccines, the country is calling for private enterprises to gather more sources and increase the vaccine supply quickly.

Le Viet Dung, deputy director of the MoH’s Drug Administration of Vietnam (DAV) last week signed Document No.1215/QLD-KD allowing AstraZeneca Vietnam to import 204,000 doses its COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.

Expected to arrive in Vietnam on February 28, the doses are the first among the 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine that Vietnam has ordered. Also around that time, about 4.88 million doses of vaccine from the COVAX facility are expected to come to Vietnam.

At present, clinical trials are still taking place for two made-in-Vietnam vaccines – Nano Covax and Covivax. Last week, the MoH’s Ethical Council in Biomedical Research held its final meeting to allow the second-stage clinic trial for Nano Covax developed by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC. This trial will begin on February 26.

Nguyen Ngo Quang, deputy director of the Agency of Science, Technology and Training under the MoH said that in May, Nano Covax could be distributed in the community for high-risk people.

Nanogen now has three factories producing vaccines and biological drugs with the total capacity of 30-50 million doses, meeting the international standards on par with those of multinational corporations.

Nano Covax and Covivax show Vietnam’s efforts to prevent and fight the pandemic, as well as the capacity of the local health sector amid the unpredictable developments of the pandemic.

Earlier, the country was recognised as one of the few to develop vaccine production technology, including three types of seasonal flu vaccines manufactured and registered for commercialisation. Biotechnology has been applied in screening and diagnosis of measles, dengue fever, and hand-foot-mouth disease.

Over the last 30 years of implementing epidemic prevention protocols, Vietnam has built a capacity to monitor, detect, diagnose, and identify diseases and respond quickly and effectively. Many dangerous epidemics have been controlled, repelled, and eradicated, such as smallpox in 1978, polio in 2000, and neonatal tetanus in 2005.

The Southeast Asian country was one of the first countries to successfully control SARS, A/H5N1 flu, and A/H1N1 flu, and prevent a number of emerging dangerous epidemics such as influenza A/H7N9, Ebola, and MERS.

By Bich Thuy

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