Vietnam News Today (September 9): HCM City Mulls 'Vaccine Green Pass' for Reopening

Vietnam News Today (September 9): HCM City mulls 'vaccine green pass' for reopening; Vietnam to conduct clinical trials of France’s XAV-19 Covid-19 drug; Bamboo Airways to resume commercial flights to Tokyo, Taipei; Phu Quoc resort paradise prepared to receive vaccinated visitors.
September 08, 2021 | 23:25

Vietnam News Today (September 9) notable headlines

HCM City mulls 'vaccine green pass' for reopening

Vietnam to conduct clinical trials of France’s XAV-19 Covid-19 drug

Bamboo Airways to resume commercial flights to Tokyo, Taipei

Phu Quoc resort paradise prepared to receive vaccinated visitors

EVFTA opens up market opportunities for SMEs

Vietnam attends 11th Mekong-RoK Foreign Ministers’ Meeting

Vietnam willing to promote ASEAN-RoK defense ties

Vietnam keen on cooperating with Austrian university in life science research

2022 State budget expected to rise by 8.3 percent

A woman receives a Covid-19 vaccine shot in HCMC's Go Vap District, August 14, 2021. Photo: VnExpress
A woman receives a Covid-19 vaccine shot in HCMC's Go Vap District, August 14, 2021. Photo: VnExpress

HCM City mulls 'vaccine green pass' for reopening

HCMC is looking into a "vaccine green pass" scheme that would allow the reopening of businesses and services after Sept. 15, according to the municipal People's Committee.

Phan Van Mai, chairman of the HCMC People's Committee, on Tuesday said offices, services, transport and economic activities could only resume operations after Sept. 15 if safety measures are ensured.

"One of the safety requirements is that people must be vaccinated," Mai said, adding he hoped the government would provide more Covid-19 vaccine doses for the city to fully immunize its residents.

Duong Anh Duc, deputy chairman of the municipal People's Committee, affirmed vaccination is the foremost priority at the moment. If a "vaccine green pass" is to be realized, the city would need to inoculate its population ahead of reopening. Those who have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot would encounter fewer coronavirus restrictions, he added.

Until Sept. 15, Ho Chi Minh City still needs around two million Covid-19 vaccine doses and ramp up vaccination rates, Duc said, cited VnExpress.

Previously on Sept. 2, deputy director of the municipal Department of Information and Communication Vo Thi Trung Trinh said the department is working with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Information and Communication to incorporate data from the national vaccination database to the city's own database. It would help the city utilize vaccination data in the coming time to fight the coronavirus and resume production, she added.

The city could either use the data to devise plans to resume production safely, or quickly confirm the number of Covid-19 vaccine shots a person has received once a digital medical declaration is submitted, she said.

Nguyen Hoai Nam, deputy director of the municipal Department of Health, on Tuesday said the city aims to vaccinate all its adult population (over 18) with at least once Covid-19 vaccine shot by Sept. 15, adding reopening is only possible with full vaccination.

The southern metropolis, home to 13 million people, has so far administered one shot to over 6.1 million people. Around 600,000 have been fully vaccinated.

Vietnam to conduct clinical trials of France’s XAV-19 Covid-19 drug

Vietnam is ready to cooperate with France in conducting the third phase of clinical trials of and transferring production technology of its XAV-19 Covid-19 treatment drug, said Deputy Minister of Health Tran Van Thuan.

Thuan made the statement during an online meeting on September 7 with France’s Xenothera Company that develops XAV-19.

The latest technology XAV-19 represents a polyclonal antibody directed against the SARS-CoV-2 which has been researched and developed by Nantes-based biotech XENOTHERA, reported VOV.

The results of the first and second phases of the clinical studies indicate that the drug is both safe and effective in preventing disease progression, neutralizing the virus, and reducing inflammation in patients.

XAV-19 has proved to be effective against various SARS-CoV-2 strains. (Illustrative photo)
XAV-19 has proved to be effective against various SARS-CoV-2 strains. (Illustrative photo)

So far, XAV-19 has proved to be effective against various SARS-CoV-2 strains, with this polyclonal antibody also having the ability to create immediate immunity and prevent viruses from entering cells.

This represents an important difference from the monoclonal antibodies which are used to treat patients in the early stages of infection.

The third phase of clinical trials of XAV-19 is getting underway in France, along with other European countries such as Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Spain.

Deputy Minister Tran Van Thuan highly appreciated the encouraging results that XAV-19 has achieved in both the first and second phases of clinical trials, expressing his wish that Vietnam would like to take part in the third phase of the drug’s clinical trials, as well as transfer of its production technology.

Odile Duvaux, president of Xenothera, said that his company welcomes Vietnam’s proposal, saying it is willing to discuss technology transfer more deeply in order to allow the country to proactively produce the drug in the future.

Xenothera is a partner introduced by AIC Group that aims to ramp up co-operation in seeking supply sources of Covid-19 treatment drugs in Vietnam.

Immediately after the online meeting, through the AIC Group, a domestic group exchanged specific contents and prepared to sign a memorandum of understanding on co-operation in implementing the third phase of clinical trials and technology transfer with Xenothera.

Bamboo Airways to resume commercial flights to Tokyo, Taipei

Bamboo Airways will reopen international commercial flights connecting Hanoi with Tokyo and Taipei from November.

Flights from Hanoi to Tokyo are scheduled to depart every Tuesday starting Nov. 2 while Hanoi-Taipei flights depart every Wednesday starting Nov. 3, according to VnExpress.

Tickets for the Hanoi-Tokyo route cost from VND8.3 million (US$364.36).

On return trips, the carrier would only transport Vietnamese repatriates or foreign experts with permission to enter the country. Vietnam is yet to open its doors to foreign tourists.

A 787-9 Dreamliner jet of Bamboo Airways taxis at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi. Photo: VnExpress
A 787-9 Dreamliner jet of Bamboo Airways taxis at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi. Photo: VnExpress

A representative of the carrier said resumption of these international routes are meant to meet growing travel demand among Vietnamese citizens wishing to study and work abroad as well as stranded foreigners longing to return home.

Last July, Vietnam Airlines reopened international commercial flights connecting Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with Australia along with several Asian and European destinations.

Vietnam closed national borders and canceled all international flights in March last year with only Vietnamese repatriates, foreign experts and highly-skilled workers allowed in since then with stringent conditions.

Aviation authorities late last month requested airlines to stop selling tickets for domestic flights until further notice as the country grapples with its most challenging outbreak that began in late April with over 530,000 infections.

Phu Quoc resort paradise prepared to receive vaccinated visitors

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has directed the implementation of a pilot scheme aimed at attracting international tourists to Phu Quoc island between now and the end of the year, with the project potentially welcoming between two and three million foreign arrivals.

According to tourism experts, the PM’s direction is expected to revive the local tourism industry which has been bearing the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This move comes after the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism received consultation from relevant ministries and agencies regarding the pilot plan, reported VOV.

It is anticipated that during the first phase of the pilot scheme, which lasts three months, Phu Quoc, regarded as a resort paradise in southern Vietnam, will receive between 2,000 to 3,000 visitors each month via charter flights in a limited number of locations.

Photo: VOV
Photo: VOV

Moving into the second phase, which also lasts for three months, the island will host 5,000 to 10,000 visitors per month. Passengers will be picked up via commercial flights and experience Phu Quoc on a larger scale.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism expects to welcome between 25,000 and 40,000 international tourists to Phu Quoc during the six-month pilot period.

Visitors will come from markets with high tourism potential and epidemic safety, including from regions such as Northeast Asia, Europe, the United States, the Middle East, and Australia.

As regulated, they must have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine recognized by Vietnamese authorities. The second dose must be injected at least 14 days before entry and no more than 12 months before arrival.

Moreover, visitors with a certificate showing Covid-19 recovery and those who have been discharged less than 12 months will also be allowed to enter Phu Quoc.

All tourists must test negative for Covid-19 before entering Vietnam via the PCR method.

Guests must also register to participate in a package tour program by a travel firm selected by the Ministry and Kien Giang province that hosts Phu Quoc island.

Hoang Nhan Chinh, secretary of the Tourism Advisory Board (TAB), said that TAB's research team have recently proposed a pilot "Green Pass" scheme to reopen the country to the international market, noting that the reopening should be deployed in a scientific and safe way.

This will ultimately be dependent on the vaccination coverage, the readiness of the Government, and local businesses, he said.

EVFTA opens up market opportunities for SMEs

After the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement was put into place one year ago, Vietnamese businesses have begun to optimize opportunities brought by the deal.

According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), since the agreement took effect on August 1, 2020, trade between Vietnam and the EU has grown more than 18 percent despite Covid-19.

Luong Hoang Thai, head of the MoIT’s Multilateral Trade Policy Department, said the deal has initially met the expectations of both sides.

Vietnam’s exports to the EU in the first half of this year increased 18.6 percent year-on-year, and the country ran a trade surplus of over US$11 billion with the market.

Many Vietnamese sectors have brought into play advantages of the EVFTA. Photo: VNA
Many Vietnamese sectors have brought into play advantages of the EVFTA. Photo: VNA

It is noteworthy that during negotiations, Vietnam is interested in market opportunities for small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that would face difficulties in accessing the market, he said.

Vietnam also expected to access technology intensive and quality products to better serve the demand of Vietnamese people, reported VNA.

Meanwhile, the EU’s exports to Vietnam during the reviewed period expanded by 18 percent, with major products like chemicals, pharmaceutical products, auto and auto spare parts shipped to the Southeast Asian nation.

Apart from market opportunities in both short and long terms, the EVFTA also targets market-oriented institutional reforms, according to the official.

He cited standards imposed by the EU on the auto industry as an example, saying the standards are similar to those introduced by the United Nations (UN) and Vietnam have shifted towards them.

The move has not only realized the Government’s determination of not trading environmental and social values for economic benefits, but also pushed ahead with sustainable development.

Once Vietnam follows the standards, the country’s goods can be exported to other markets, he added.

The MoIT said under the deal, Vietnam eliminated import duties on 48.5 percent of the tariff lines, equivalent to 64.5 percent of the EU’s exports to the country, as soon as the agreement took effect.

After that, 91.8 percent of the tariff lines, equivalent to 97.1 percent of the bloc’s exports, will have their import duties removed in seven years.

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