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Prime Minister orders purchasing COVID-19 vaccine this month

February 16, 2021 | 08:53

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked the health sector to conduct all necessary measures to make COVID-19 vaccines available in Vietnam this month either through purchasing or from UN organisations.

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Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc chairs the meeting. Photo: VNA

He made the request while chairing a meeting of permanent Government members on pandemic prevention and control work held in Hanoi on February 15, in response to complex developments recorded in several localities nationwide.

The PM also urged that the research and production of domestic vaccine be accelerated, Viet Nam News said.

He assigned the Health Ministry to decide options, partners and types of imported vaccines; identify prioritised groups for vaccination; and coordinate with the Finance Ministry in arranging needed financial sources.

Lauding prompt and drastic efforts made by the health sector and many localities since January 27 to date, he underscored the fact that necessary social distancing measures have been implemented while thousands of medical personnel have been sent to COVID-19 hotspots.

However, the situation remains complicated with a number of pandemic-hit areas including northern Hai Duong province and Hanoi yet to curb their local outbreaks, Phuc noted.

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A medical worker disinfects an area of a field hospital for Covid-19 patients in Hai Duong Province. Photo: VnExpress

The Government leader highlighted the need for more drastic implementation of his Directive 05 on urgent COVID-19 prevention and control measures, particularly in quickly zoning off outbreaks, larger scale testing, and speedy contact tracing.

He agreed to proposals to halt the organisation of festivals and activities of mass gatherings, and told the education ministry to coordinate with localities to carry out online teaching in some localities.

He ordered restriction on Lunar New Year visits and travel in the first lunar month and strict adherence to COVID-19 prevention measures, particularly wearing masks in public areas, with stricter sanctions on violators.

The PM asked localities to re-conduct COVID-19 testing for foreign experts and tightly manage quarantine sites to avoid cross infections, with the army tasked with managing these sites.

He approved the enforcement of social distancing under Directive 16 in the entire Hai Duong province, adding that Hanoi and HCM City can implement the measure in high-risk areas.

Ensuring food security, promoting local farm produce consumption, and tight monitoring of entry-exit activities are also necessary, according to PM Phuc.

Vietnam to receive 5 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses in February

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A medical worker holds up two vials of Nanocovax, a Vietnamese Covid-19 vaccine, on December 17, 2020. Photo: VnExpress

Vietnam would receive around five million Covid-19 vaccine doses by the end of February, Deputy Health Minister Truong Quoc Cuong said at the meeting.

They include about 4.9 million vaccine doses provided via Covax, a global mechanism for developing, manufacturing and procuring COVID-19 vaccine candidates and help member countries access vaccines as they become available.

About 117,000 other doses would be imported, Cuong said, adding that they would come by the end of February provided that flights and procedures are completed as scheduled.

With the vaccine doses, five million people will receive the first shots, and three months later the second shots would be administered. Around two to five million people on the frontline of the coronavirus fight would be prioritized to get the vaccine, VnExpress reported.

Vietnam has reached a deal to receive 30 million doses of a vaccine developed by British-Swedish company AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University within the first half of this year. The country is also stepping up negotiations with the U.S.’s Pfizer and Moderna, along with other vaccine manufacturers in Russia and China.

Covax also announced last month that it would provide between 4.9 million and 8.2 million vaccine doses to Vietnam within the first half of this year.

Vietnam has four domestic COVID-19 vaccines developed by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC, the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals, the Vaccine and Biological Production Company No. 1 and the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals.

Nanocovax, produced by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC, has finished its first phase of human trials and is expected to begin the second one this month. Covivac of the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals is expected to commence human trials this month as well.

As of February 15, Vietnam has recorded 677 Covid-19 cases since the new community wave started late last month. The biggest coronavirus hotspot is northern Hai Duong Province, now with 499 cases./.

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