“The number of Vietnamese in the Czech Republic ranks the third in Europe (100,000 people), after France and Germany. We always make sure that Vietnamese in the country are treated equally as Czech citizens in terms of access to vaccines, based on their needs and ages”, Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Vietnam Vitezslav Grepl said at a press meeting on March 23 afternoon.
The meeting was held by the Ambassador of the European Union and its member countries in Hanoi, ahead of the time when the first batch of Covid-19 vaccine distributed to Vietnam via Covax mechanism, Vnexpress reported.
Mr. Grepl emphasized the Vietnam- Czech Republic relations have a long history and the country has accompanied Vietnam in difficult circumstances. The Czech Republic has contributed finance through multilateral mechanisms such as the United Nations, UNICEF to support Vietnam and other countries in the region such as Cambodia. He also said the Czech Republic would provide vaccines to Vietnam if they are redundant.
Medical staff take care of a Covid-19 patient in Semily, Czech Republic. Photo: AFP.
Covax is a multilateral mechanism aimed at procuring and equitably distributing two billion vaccine doses and one billion syringes to 190 countries in the world by the end of 2021.
The EU, the first sponsor to Covax, has contributed $2.62 billion, accounting for 41.5% of the total budget. The EU delegation to Vietnam stressed that this contribution represented the symbolic solidarity between the EU and its member countries to ensure fair vaccine access.
On March 2, 324,000 vaccine doses supplied by Covax arrived in Cambodia. Two days later, 500,000 doses reached the Philippines. Vietnam would receive about 4,176,000 doses and the first shipment is scheduled to be transported to the country in late March or early April.
Nevertheless, Professor, Dr. Dang Duc Anh, Director of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology on March 23 said that 1.37 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine via the Covax program expected to arrive in Vietnam in late March and other 2.8 million doses in April would be delayed. Besides, around 33 million doses that Covax pledged for Vietnam wouldn’t also reach the country in the second half of this year as previously planned.
According to Anh, the delay in vaccine delivery was due to the limited production capacity and the small number of vaccine manufacturers meeting the WHO’s pre-assessment standards.
A medical worker in Gia Lai province receives the AstraZeneca vaccine. Photo: Vnexpress.
The U.S, U.K, and Europe ordered a large number of vaccines right from the research stage. Besides, several nations bought the vaccine number which is quadruple their population. All of these reasons have made developing countries like Vietnam finds it hard to get access to the vaccine.
The Ministry of Health aims to procure 150 million vaccine doses including both imported and locally-produced ones by late 2021, early 2022. The Ministry is negotiating with pharmaceutical companies and related units to access other sources of vaccines. In which, the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals (Polyvac) is being in talks with Russia to purchase its Sputnik V vaccine. The pharmaceutical firm Pfizer last week announced it would provide Vietnam with 31 million doses. Nevertheless, there has been no producer informing about the specific supply roadmap.
The Health Ministry is also negotiating with the pharmaceutical companies of Johnson & Johnson and Moderna as well as producers in India and China.
Vietnam expects to start producing its own Covid-19 vaccine by the end of the third quarter, according to the ministry.
Nanocovax vaccine by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC entered its second phase of human trials last month. Meanwhile, Covivac by the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC) has been conducting its first phase of human trials.
Two other Vietnamese vaccines are in development, produced by Vaccine and Biological Production Company No. 1 (Vabiotech) and the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals (Polyvac).
Vietnam received more than 117,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses out of a total of 30 million ordered by VNVC on February 24. These vaccines were allocated to provinces and cities to inject their medical and other frontline workers.
As of March 23, more than 36,000 Vietnamese have administered their first shots of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Hai Duong, the nation’s biggest Covid-19 hotspot in the latest outbreak, has the highest number of recipients with 17,248 people. Vietnam has recorded cases displaying reactions after inoculation, but most of whom with common ones. The post-injection response rates are equivalent to those reported by the manufacturer. Some cases with severe reactions were timely treated and now in stable health conditions.
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