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Vietnam among first countries to receive COVAX’s COVID-19 vaccine

February 07, 2021 | 11:50

Vietnam is among the 190 countries to receive the initial rollout of COVID-19 vaccines from the global initiative known as COVAX.

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Dr. Tran Thi Giang, Director of WHO’s Disease Control Programs (Photo: Suc Khoe Doi Song)

Accordingly, Vietnam is expected to get from 4.8 million to 8.2 million indicative doses of the Astra Zeneca vaccine, of which 25-35 percent will be provided in the first quarter, 65-75 percent in the second quarter of 2021.

COVAX is a global vaccine-sharing initiative jointly co-ordinated by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance, CBC reported.

According to the WHO website, the goal of COVAX is "to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines, and to guarantee fair and equitable access for every country in the world."

It was launched in April 2020, in response to the pandemic, as part of a four-pronged effort by WHO and partners to support global efforts to fight the disease. (In addition to vaccines, the other three pillars of that effort are diagnostics, treatment and health-system strengthening).

According to Dr. Tran Thi Giang, Director of WHO’s Disease Control Programs, WHO is working with its partners (UNICEF, GAVI, CEPI) and vaccine manufacturers to ensure timely vaccine supply and support to member countries, facilitating the vaccination steps once the vaccines are available.

The UN’s health body also calls for all 190 countries to have their prioritized group inoculated first. Those prioritized for COVID-19 vaccines include frontline medical personnel, those vulnerable to the virus, including old people with underlying diseases.

The Hanoi-based WHO office is working closely with assisting the Ministry of Health in developing the National COVID-19 vaccination plan to have it sent to COVAX facility on February 9.

WHO also recommends that in parallel with preparation for inoculation program, countries must maintain and promote community anti-pandemic measures and raise people’s awareness of the disease, according to Suc Khoe Doi Song.

On February 5, Hanoi promised to all its citizens that it will cover all the COVID-19 vaccines shots with its own budget and financial sources, amid the new outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

The Hanoi Party Committee said it would work with the Ministry of Health and report to the government and the prime minister to seek approval on the city's plan to pay for its own COVID-19 vaccination. Vaccine shots would be prioritized for those most likely to be infected by the novel coronavirus, the Party Committee said.

Hanoi, home to more than eight million people, has recorded 21 infections in the latest community transmission outbreak, which emerged in northern Vietnam last week and has spread to 10 cities and provinces with 366 confirmed cases.

The nearby Hai Phong port city, which has recorded one infection in the outbreak, has also revealed plans to buy COVID-19 vaccine shots for its two million citizens, using both the city's and the national budget.

Vietnam is currently aiming at mass Covid-19 vaccination for its nearly 100 million population. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Jan. 31 has requested the health ministry and Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam to present a plan for buying Covid-19 vaccines within the first quarter, using the national budget and other sources.

Vietnam on February 1 signed a deal with AstraZeneca, a British–Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Cambridge, England, to supply the country with 30 million doses in the first half of this year for domestic inoculation.

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A man is injected with Covid-19 vaccine Nanocovax in Hanoi as part of human trials on December 17, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Huy Manh.

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.

While Vabiotech and Polyvac’s vaccines are still under evaluation on animals, IVMB’s candidate Covivac is scheduled to enter human trials this January after yielding safe and strong immunity response on animals.

As reported by VOV, IVAC will cooperate with the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology and Hanoi Medical University to trial the vaccine on 125 volunteers aged 18-59. Those receiving IVAC’s trial jabs must be healthy, having no underlying disease and satisfying several other specific criteria.

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Nanocovax vaccines (Photo: VNE)

In the meantime, Nanocogen’s Nonacovax vaccine finished its first phase of human trials. Nanogen Biopharmaceutical company is expected to end its Nanocovax vaccine’s human trials by February 2022.

The human clinical trials protocol, which includes three phrases, was approved by the Ethics Council of the Ministry of Health on December 9. Each phrase consists of two injections, 28 days apart. Nanocovax is priced at VND120,000 ($5.17) per dose. Along with injections, Vietnam’s COVID-19 Nanocovax vaccine will also be developed in the form of eye-drop and nasal spray for special subjects.

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