27 years of contribution to Vietnam’s healthcare

April 26, 2021 | 14:30
AstraZeneca has become a household name around the world for its COVID-19 vaccine – however, the company’s presence in Vietnam dates back to 1994 with many significant contributions to the healthcare sector. Nitin Kapoor, chairman and general director of AstraZeneca Vietnam, talked to VIR’s Bich Thuy about its holistic journey to help Vietnam reduce disease burdens and overcome COVID-19.
27 years of contribution to vietnams healthcare
Nitin Kapoor, chairman and general director of AstraZeneca Vietnam

AstraZeneca Vietnam has won the “Great Contribution to Healthcare” award by the British Chamber of Commerce Vietnam, presented by British Ambassador Gareth Ward. Could you tell us more about the impact the company has made in Vietnam’s healthcare sector?

As a British-Swedish company, AstraZeneca Vietnam was honoured to receive this award, which is of great encouragement to our passion for advancing healthcare throughout our 27 years in Vietnam. Our aim is to support the Vietnamese government and Ministry of Health (MoH) to address the double burden of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and infectious diseases, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19 in the past year.

Notably, our innovative, high-quality medicines are improving the lives of nearly 3 million Vietnamese patients struggling with NCDs each year, spread across all provinces. As part of our $220 million investment into Vietnam from 2020-2024, $25 million is dedicated to advancing research and development, and clinical trials, with more than 245 research sites.

During the pandemic, 30 million doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine supplied through the bilateral agreement will help provide protection from this deadly virus for millions of people in Vietnam.

In response to the damaging impact of COVID-19 on global health systems, we are partnering with the World Economic Forum, London School of Economics, and Vietnam’s Ministry of Health to strengthen Vietnam’s health system sustainability and resilience through the PHSSR initiative.

Our community investment programmes are also making a big impact on Vietnam’s overall quality of health, with our Healthy Lung Programme and Young Health Programme having respectively benefited more than 215,000 patients living with respiratory diseases, and 146,000 youths and their communities.

In addition, thanks to our solar power system donations in the Green Energy for Health programme, five local health facilities in Ha Tinh and Quang Nam are now significantly reducing their CO2 emissions and enjoying stable electricity that is critical for emergency services and surgeries.

Vietnam and other countries worldwide are pinning high hopes on COVID-19 vaccines, including the AstraZeneca/Oxford jab. Could you share some updates about the rollout of your vaccine?

This is a very timely question as today was World Immunization Week. AstraZeneca is committed to providing broad and equitable access to our COVID-19 vaccine, developed in partnership with the University of Oxford, at no profit during the pandemic period.

The vaccine has been granted a conditional marketing authorisation or emergency use approval in nearly 80 countries across six continents, and has also received Emergency Use Listing from the World Health Organization (WHO). It has been given to almost 200 million people around the world who can now begin to return to a truly “new normal” life.

The WHO and European Medicines Agency have reaffirmed that the AstraZeneca vaccine is effective in preventing COVID-19 and the benefits of taking the vaccine outweigh the risks of potential side effects. Based on the data so far from clinical trials in up to 60,000 participants and real world evidence from tens of millions of people, our vaccine is well tolerated and highly effective against COVID-19 across all disease severities with consistent efficacy across all demographics and in particular all adult age groups.

What are AstraZeneca’s plans to ensure supply of the vaccine for more countries, thus enabling them to fast-track the drive to reopen normally again?

We truly believe that no-one is safe until everyone is safe. Although challenges are inevitable as we deal with a catastrophic, evolving pandemic, scientists, healthcare professionals, and the pharmaceutical industry are working around the clock and implementing new ways of working to accelerate vaccine production and reduce the time to reach communities, whilst maintaining the highest standards of quality.

To produce a high volume at pace, we have built more than a dozen parallel regional supply chains and are collaborating with more than 20 partners across over 15 countries.

To date, more than 900,000 doses of our vaccine have been delivered to Vietnam and it’s heartening to see that every day, thousands more Vietnamese people are getting the vaccine. Millions more doses are expected to arrive in the coming months, and we hope they will contribute to Vietnam’s efforts to protect public health, reopen borders and accelerate economic recovery.

Vietnam is one of more than 100 countries that has received our COVID-19 vaccine through COVAX – as part of our commitment to provide a vaccine made for the world, regardless of income level. We are thankful for the guidance, support, and collaboration from the Vietnamese government, the MoH, UNICEF, the WHO, Vietnam Vaccine JSC, and other partners that will allow us to deliver our vaccine and other life-changing medicines to Vietnamese people in the safest and fastest way possible.

By Bich Thuy

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