Kidong Park: WHO closely monitors ongoing pandemic outbreak in Vietnam

Dr Kidong Park, WHO Representative in Vietnam, said the WHO is closely monitoring the situation of the ongoing pandemic outbreak in Vietnam.
May 21, 2021 | 12:15
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Dr Kidong Park, WHO Representative in Vietnam (Source: WHO)
Dr Kidong Park, WHO Representative in Vietnam. Photo: WHO

The WHO is closely monitoring the situation of the ongoing pandemic outbreak in Vietnam, said Dr Kidong Park, WHO Representative in Vietnam, during an interview with the Vietnam News Agency.

According to the WHO Representative, the pandemic has been evolving fast and is complex in nature in Vietnam. It has quickly spread to a number of cities and provinces, including in industrial zones. Two types of variants of concern (B.1.1.7 and B.1.617.2) have been detected.

These factors make case investigation and contract tracing very challenging,” he stressed.

The next few weeks can be crucial in controlling this outbreak, he said, adding that with the aggressive contact tracing and testing, it can be expected that more cases will be identified, and more provinces/cities could be reporting cases.

There is a very high risk of additional cases to continue to be reported in the coming days from the community, and possibly from people who are isolated as F1,” Park warned.

Vietnamese people returning from abroad are disinfected before going into a centralized quarantine facility in Dong Nai Province in 2020. Photo by VnExpress
Vietnamese people returning from abroad are disinfected before going into a centralized quarantine facility in Dong Nai Province in 2020. Photo: VnExpress

Regarding WHO’s evaluation on Vietnamese government’s measures to cope with the pandemic, Park said the country has intensified its response measures that have been proven to work in the past outbreaks. These have been adjusted on a daily basis as the situation evolves.

We do hope and have confidence that Vietnam could suppress current outbreaks with a whole-of-government and a whole-of-society approach,” he noted.

Asked about Covid-19 vaccination in the country, the WHO Representative said similar to other developing countries, Vietnam is facing many challenges, including limited vaccine supply, uncertainty of the shipment schedule and short vaccine shelf life.

Good news is that Vietnam received additional 1,682,400 doses of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine from the COVAX Facility on 16 May 2021. These additional vaccines will further expand the vaccination of priority groups in the coming months.

A medic is collecting samples for COVID-19 testing. (Photo: VNA)
A medic is collecting samples for COVID-19 testing. Photo: VNA

According to Park, WHO is a co-creator of the COVAX Facility that has committed to provide Covid-19 vaccines covering up to 20% of the population to its participating countries, including Vietnam, by the end of 2021.

In addition, WHO and partners are seeking to expand the capacity of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to produce Covid-19 vaccines and scale up manufacturing to increase global access to these critical tools to bring the pandemic under control.

To implement this idea, WHO is seeking expressions of interest from manufacturers of medical products preferably in LMICs, which could host a Covid-19 mRNA hub which will assemble the technology up to good manufacturing practices-grade pilot lots for clinical trials; and transfer the appropriate know-how and technology to existing or new manufacturers in LMICs to enable them to develop and produce Covid-19 mRNA vaccines.

In the coming weeks, WHO will issue another call for interest from manufacturers in LMICs interested in receiving the technology developed by the technology transfer hub(s), Park continued.

A medical worker receives a shot of AstraZeneca vaccine
A medical worker receives a shot of AstraZeneca vaccine. Photo: VOV

A vaccine manufacturer in Vietnam has already expressed its interest to become a mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine technology transfer hub. It is being reviewed by WHO Head Quarters. It is expected that Vietnam will also apply for large scale manufacturing of mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine.

If Vietnam will host a mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine technology transfer hub, it will contribute to mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine production in Vietnam as well as in the region.

Park added that WHO is continuing to support the development of faster, more accurate, affordable and easier-to-use laboratory tests as well as supporting access to affordable, quality Covid-19 tests in all countries, in particular low and middle-income countries.

For Vietnam, WHO has been providing technical advice to develop national testing strategies and guidelines.

We have also provided laboratory testing materials including specimen collection kits and reagents for RT-PCR. We are committed to continue to do so,” he said. /.

Vietnam recorded 24 new cases of Covid-19 over the past 12 hours to 6 a.m on May 21, all domestic infections, according to the Ministry of Health.

Among the cases, 15 were found in Bac Giang province, six in Dien Bien, two in Hai Duong and one in Bac Ninh.

The latest cases have brought the national count of domestic infections to 3,355. A total of 1,785 cases have been detected since the new wave of the pandemic started in the country on April 27.

The number of recoveries in the country stands at 2,689. Meanwhile, fatalities related to the pandemic reach 39.

Among the patients under treatment, 63 have tested negative for the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 once, 34 twice, and 23 thrice.

More than 1 million Covid-19 vaccine shots had been given to frontline medical workers and members of community-based anti-Covid-19 groups as of 4p.m on May 20.

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