|The handover ceremony of COVID-19 vaccines at the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Hanoi |
Addressing the handover ceremony of COVID-19 vaccines at the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in the afternoon of the same day, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam expressed deep thanks for the great and valuable support from international organisations for the country’s fight against COVID-19.
Kamal Malhotra, United Nations Resident Coordinator in Vietnam, said that these vaccines will be a gamechanger and a critical new tool in the fight against the pandemic.
“Today marks a turning point – not just because we welcome 811,200 vaccines to Vietnam, the first in several anticipated deliveries of the COVAX-supplied vaccines to this country this year – but because it marks an incredible moment in history where a handful of countries, along with other actors, especially in the private sector, as well as UNICEF and WHO, have joined hands in solidarity, in recognition that vaccines are a public good which must be accessed equitably by both the richer and poorer countries alike and also by the poor and the most vulnerable individuals within the countries,” he noted.
An additional shipment of 3,364,800 doses is expected by the end of May, followed by more later in the year.
|The vaccine containers touched down at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi |
|The vaccines in the cold storage of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Hanoi |
If the world is to stem the spread of COVID-19 and urgently stop further dangerous variants from appearing, effective vaccines must reach 75 per cent of the world’s population. Beyond being an ambitious and essential goal that will allow economies to open and flourish, it is also an incredible moment in history, where the biggest and most complex vaccination campaign ever attempted is underway. Globally, more than 32 million doses of COVAX-supplied vaccines have been delivered to 63 countries in just one month.
Essential to the success of the campaign is vaccine equity, meaning every country and every person, including those hardest to reach, should benefit. To enable global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, especially to priority groups, the COVAX Facility, made up of GAVI, CEPI, WHO, and UNICEF – was formed. It is the only global initiative that is working with governments and manufacturers to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are available worldwide to both higher-income and lower-income countries.
While the arrival of vaccines through the COVAX Facility is welcome news, it will still be some time before a large proportion of the adult population is vaccinated. In the meantime, it is essential that people continue to follow government advice to wear masks, wash hands regularly, and maintain physical distance to reduce the risk of transmission.
At the handover event at the National Vaccine Storage Facility in Hanoi, a series of governments were recognised and thanked for their generous financial contribution to the COVAX Facility for the provision and distribution of vaccines to 92 lower- and middle-income countries, free of charge.
Governments contributing in the spirit of vaccine equity:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bhutan, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Estonia, the European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxemburg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Qatar, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States
Private sector companies and foundations lauded for their contributions:
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Thristledown Foundation, Mastercard, TikTok, Shell, as well as individuals.
On the ground in each country, the WHO and UNICEF are actively supporting country health systems to plan and deploy, train health workers, improve their cold chain capacity, conduct monitoring, and raise public awareness and information on why vaccination is so important.
“The WHO joins the government of Vietnam and our partners in welcoming this milestone in the pandemic response,” said Dr Kidong Park, WHO Representative in Vietnam. “This achievement is a testament to global solidarity and what we can achieve together when many countries and partners work in unity to deliver a critical public health good. I commend Vietnam for the incredible work to facilitate the arrival of these vaccines from COVAX.”
“I would like to acknowledge the hard work of all the government counterparts involved, both from the health and non-health sectors," he added. "I have seen how much you prepared for the arrival of these vaccines, from identifying priority groups, training health staff, facilitating delivery systems to reach the provinces, and keeping the public informed. The arrival of the vaccines means that more frontline workers and high-risk populations can be vaccinated and protected. WHO will continue to work alongside our counterparts to make sure these vaccines benefit whose who need them the most.”
Led by UNICEF, the procurement and delivery of this supply of the vaccines through the COVAX Facility underpins Vietnamese government’s Resolution No.21/NQ-CP dated February 26, 2021 on purchasing and using COVID-19 vaccines and will provide critical vaccination support for 20 per cent of the population.
UNICEF Representative Rana Flowers, in thanking all the countries who have generously supported COVAX, said: “This is a historical and highly complex effort – the likes of which none of us have experienced before. UNICEF is bringing to this global effort every ounce of the experience gained in saving millions of lives through the safe delivery of vaccines.”
“Our work with the Ministry of Health here in Vietnam includes support with planning, training, and communication, as well as the procurement and delivery of additional syringes, safe boxes, and fridges. Only with vaccine rollout to every corner of Vietnam can life and the economy start to return to normal, can we ensure children have uninterrupted access to schools, healthcare, and protection services. What a great moment for us all to join hands in support of the people of Vietnam,” added Flowers.
The vaccine procured for Vietnam is developed jointly by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford and is manufactured under licence by SK Bioscience in South Korea. The AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine has received the Emergency Use Authorization from WHO and is already used in Vietnam.