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Vietnam among prioritized Mekong nations for China COVID-19 vaccine

16:45 | 25/08/2020

Vietnam and other Mekong countries will receive priority once China completes developing a COVID-19 vaccine, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pledged Monday.

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vietnam among prioritized mekong nations for china covid 19 vaccine
Vietnam among prioritized Mekong nations for China COVID-19 vaccine (Photo: VNE)

Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam would be first in line to get the vaccine after China had fully developed it and put into use, Li said at the third Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC) leaders' online meeting.

China is developing two of the 30 candidate vaccines currently in clinical evaluation worldwide, according to the latest figures from the World Health Organisation.

China will also set up a dedicated public health program under the framework of the LMC special fund, launched in 2016 to finance cooperation projects between the six nations, as reported by SCMP.

Li had been expected to speak with leaders from all countries except Laos, according to plans for the call released by state media last week, including Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, Myanmar President Win Myint, and Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha.

Li said China would continue to provide materials and other support to LMC partners to fight the pandemic.

China has also promised priority access to other countries such as an offer to the Philippines in July after President Rodrigo Duterte made an appeal to Chinese President Xi Jinping for access to a vaccine when it is developed. Duterte said his country would not stand against China on South China Sea issues, where the two countries have conflicting territorial claims, according to SCMP.

For countries along the Mekong, China also said it would provide annual hydrological data to better combat climate change, as well as floods and drought.

vietnam among prioritized mekong nations for china covid 19 vaccine
Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam would be first in line to get the vaccine after China had fully developed it and put into use (Photo: Xinhua)

On August 22, China granted emergency use authorization to multiple COVID-19 vaccines developed by domestic drug makers. For now, it has only supplied these vaccines to those at high-risk of contracting the novel coronavirus, including front-line medical staff and border guards.

In the near future, the vaccine program will be expanded to staff in the sectors of transportation, service, and vendors to "first build an immunity barrier among special population groups" to prevent a wave of infection in the fall and winter, Zheng Zhongwei, head of China’s coronavirus vaccine development program, told Chinese state TV Saturday.

Yet China’s latest vaccine developments are viewed with doubt, with Papua New Guinea recently saying it had turned back a group of Chinese miners who had received an experimental coronavirus vaccine.

According to VNE, Vietnam’s Health Ministry said earlier this month it had registered to buy the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Russia.

The ministry said it had also registered to buy the vaccine being developed by the U.K. and was cooperating with other vaccine producers worldwide, including in the U.S., to seek assistance in the production of a COVID-19 vaccine in Vietnam.

Vietnamese labs are working hard to get a COVID-19 vaccine ready for clinical trial by the end of this year.

Covid-19 vaccines produced by four Vietnamese institutions – Vaccine and Biological Production No. 1 (VABIOTECH), the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals (POLYVAC), the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC), and Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology – have shown positive initial results.

The ministry had said earlier Vietnam aims to have a COVID-19 vaccine by 2021.

Since July 25, when Vietnam's first local Covid-19 transmission in over three months was recorded in Da Nang, outbreaks have occurred in 15 localities, with 680 domestic infections as of Tuesday morning, including 540 in Da Nang alone.

The nation has so far reported 27 Covid-19 deaths.

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