800,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses from COVAX arrive in Việt Nam

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HÀ NỘI — The first batch of 811,200 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine shipment via the COVAX Facility arrived in Việt Nam yesterday morning.

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Health Đỗ Xuân Tuyên, UNICEF Representative in Việt Nam Rana Flowers, and WHO Representative in Việt Nam Kidong Park, were present at Nội Bài International Airport in Hà Nội to witness the arrival of the vaccine.

COVAX is a global initiative between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, UNICEF and the World Health Organisation (WHO), to ensure fair and equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Việt Nam is the 73rd country in the world to receive the vaccine via the initiative.

The UN children’s agency, in charge of the purchase and delivery of the vaccines through COVAX, said the amount of doses today is smaller than the 1.1 million doses previously planned due to production constraints.

The delays affect all recipient countries under COVAX as the amount of doses available from the producers needs to be distributed equally among the countries, according to Flowers.

On March 24, it was announced that the shipment was delayed until mid-April, but the delivery has been conducted much earlier than expected.

“We are delighted that the vaccines will now go to the heroic health workers who have been supporting Việt Nam to stay so safe over the COVID-19 pandemic period,” the UNICEF official said.

“It is the case that the vaccine producers in India are also struggling to meet the demand, as there is a severe outbreak within India, and therefore they are seeking to protect their people. We do not anticipate that this will be a long delay. We have contractual arrangements with all of the vaccine providers to make sure that they are providing the vaccines as contracted earlier this year,” Flowers said in response to questions over concerns of further delays in vaccine delivery following India’s move to restrict exports over its intensifying outbreaks as the country is also one of the main manufacturers of AstraZeneca vaccines.

The vaccine doses will be transported to the cold storage of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Hà Nội.

The Vietnamese health ministry will be responsible for distributing the vaccines to be used in all 63 cities and provinces of the country.

The vaccine containers being transported to the cold storage of the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology in Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Quyết

COVAX is still committed to deliver 4.176 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine out of the 30 million allocated for Việt Nam in a different shipment by the end of May, and the remainder to be shipped by the end of 2021 and early 2022.

The vaccine procured for Việt Nam is developed jointly by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford and is manufactured under licence by SK Bioscience in South Korea. The AstraZeneca/Oxford COVID-19 vaccine has received the Emergency Use Authorisation from WHO and is the first vaccine to receive approval for emergency use in Việt Nam.

The Việt Nam Vaccine Company (VNVC) has also placed an order of 30 million doses from AstraZeneca that will be delivered throughout 2021. — VNS

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Health Đỗ Xuân Tuyên, UNICEF Representative in Việt Nam Rana Flowers, and WHO Representative in Việt Nam Kidong Park, were present at Nội Bài International Airport in Hà Nội to receive the vaccine containers. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Quyết

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