Over 800 million Covax-sourced AstraZeneca vaccines arrive in Vietnam

The first batch of Covid-19 vaccines sourced via the global Covax program, containing 811,200 AstraZeneca doses, has arrived at Noi Bai International Airport April 1 morning.
April 01, 2021 | 17:08
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The batch arriving at Noi Bai International Airport on April 1 morning (Photo: VNE)

As reported by VNE, the batch was then transferred to the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE) for preservation. The Ministry of Health will be in charge of coordinating the vaccines. However, it is yet to announce any plan to allocate the batch.

The vaccine reception ceremony takes place in the afternoon with the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, ambassadors from countries sponsoring the Covax program and representatives from international organizations.

Previously, global vaccine access mechanism Covax planned to supply Vietnam with 1.37 million Covid-19 vaccine doses produced by British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca on March 25. But due to a lack of supply, only 811,200 doses were made available in the first batch.

Rana Flowers, UNICEF's representative in Vietnam, said Covax still guarantees to give Vietnam over four million vaccine doses by the end of May despite supply shortage.

Vietnam is expecting 60 million doses of the UK’s AstraZeneca vaccine, with 30 million sourced via Covax and another 30 million by order.

On February 24, the first 117,600 purchased doses arrived in the country and have been administered to nearly 50,000 prioritized recipients in the National Expanded Vaccination program.

On March 23, Vietnam greenlighted Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for emergency use.

Regarding domestically produced Covid-19 vaccines, the country is eyeing self-provision of vaccines in Quarter 3 this year, as soon as the homegrown Nanocovax finishes its third phase of human trials.

A medical worker in Hanoi's Thanh Nhan Hospital receives her first Covid-19 vaccine shot, March 9, 2021 (Photo: VNE)

Vietnam, the country’s been showered with praises over comprehensive and effective COVID-19 containment attainment is having four potential vaccines on hands. The vaccines are studied and produced by Nanogen, Vabiotech, Polyvac and the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVMB), all have completed the laboratory production process.

IVMB’s candidate Covivac has entered the first phase of human trials in early March after yielding safe and strong immunity response on animals. In the meantime, Nanocogen’s Nonacovax vaccine has gone half the way into the second phase. Nanogen Biopharmaceutical company is expected to end its Nanocovax vaccine’s human trials by February 2022.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam on March 26 received the second shot of made-in-Vietnam NanoCovax vaccine. After the injection, the official waited 30 minutes for medical monitoring and then talked to other volunteers, expressing his trust in those engaging in NanoCovax research and trials.

At the current progress, scientists would be able to submit the preliminary test results to the National Council for Ethics in Biomedical Research in late June or early July for the approval of the third phase of trial on a larger scale, he continued.

The thirst for Covid-19 vaccines in the world has never been this much. Many countries, including India, are banning Covid-19 vaccine export to serve the urgent needs of domestic vaccination. The move, known as “vaccine nationalism” is making it more difficult for poor countries to get access to the already short-supplied Covid-19 vaccine sources.

Covax is the world’s main effort for getting Covid-19 vaccines to poorer nations. It was started last year by the World Health Organization and two groups that have been working on getting vaccines to developing countries—Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations—when it became clear that many nations would struggle to access the shots.

As rich countries have done, Covax made deals with vaccine manufacturers to buy doses before they had passed clinical trials and been approved by drug regulators. The money to buy the vaccines has been donated mostly by Western governments and charitable groups, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, according to WSJ.

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