Health minister holds talks with China, India, Russia ambassadors on COVID-19 vaccines

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Health minister Nguyễn Thanh Long during talks with Chinese, Indian, and Russian ambassadors on COVID-19 vaccines. — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — International cooperation in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and issues related to vaccines were discussed during Wednesday’s meetings between Vietnamese health minister Nguyễn Thanh Long and Chinese, Indian and Russian ambassadors.

The health minister congratulated the three countries on their achievements in developing, manufacturing, and distributing COVID-19 vaccines, as well as thanked the three countries for their support and cooperation in Việt Nam’s own fight against the pandemic.

Regarding the COVID-19 vaccine, Long said Việt Nam has reviewed its protocols on approving foreign COVID-19 vaccines for emergency uses, and cut back on administrative procedures to ensure fast approval and licensing, however, the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine is still the highest priority.

Minister Long asked China to support Việt Nam with vaccine supply to ensure coverage for prioritised groups, including Vietnamese citizens who wish to work or study in China as China has started to implement vaccination certificates to facilitate visas for those who had been inoculated with Chinese-made vaccines.

Vabiotech Company (under the Ministry of Health) serves as the focal point responsible for approaching, negotiations, and overall assessment of resources, COVID-19 supply capacity of Chinese partners, as well as demand for use of vaccines in Việt Nam, according to Long.

“We hope to soon receive the application documents for COVID-19 vaccines from China. If the documents meet our requirements, the approval could be done within two weeks,” Long said.

Minister Long and Indian ambassador to Việt Nam Pranay Verma also discussed vaccine cooperation.

India currently manufactures two main types of COVID-19 vaccines, one by AstraZeneca (this type is not for Việt Nam’s market), and one developed by Indians, Covaxin. A private company in Việt Nam has submitted a request to the health ministry to get licences for distribution of the vaccine in Việt Nam, according to the health minister.

The Indian ambassador said the embassy is still discussing with Indian vaccine producers on lending help for Việt Nam in conducting phase 3 human trials of Vietnamese-made COVID-19 vaccines, which would need to involve thousands of volunteers.

The two sides have also agreed to step up investment cooperation in Việt Nam’s pharmaceutical industry.

Talking to Minister Counselor of the Russian Embassy in Việt Nam Bublikov Vadim, Minister Long reiterated that the country has approved for emergency use Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

Regarding Việt Nam’s proposals on supply of the vaccine as well as cooperation to manufacture Sputnik V right in Việt Nam, the Russian diplomat said they are willing to work with the health ministry and other agencies to implement deals regarding Sputnik V.

Việt Nam is set to receive some 60 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines this year – 30 million from COVAX Facility and 30 million through commercial purchases with the company itself, and is looking for more options – including domestically developed vaccines – to achieve herd immunity (80 per cent coverage of its near 100 million population). — VNS

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