The Drug Administration of Vietnam under the Ministry of Health has recently approved the import of the first 204,000 doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use.
|Photo for illustration.
AstraZeneca Vietnam Company Limited was allowed on Wednesday to import the doses under emergent circumstances to help fight against COVID-19 pandemic which has turned more complicated in Vietnam.
This is the first batch of Vietnam’s order of 30 million doses of the vaccine bought directly from the manufacturer (with phased delivery throughout 2021), in addition to about 4.9 million doses that the country is receiving under the WHO-led COVAX initiative aimed at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines at the end of February, especially for poor and developing countries.
The batch, produced by the South Korean pharmaceutical company SK Bioscience Co Limited, is expected to arrive in the country on February 28.
AstraZeneca Vietnam, the importing company, is responsible for the origin, quality of the imported vaccine and the vaccines are used for the right purposes and in a safe and effective manner, the administration’s document approving the import noted.
Previously, Vietnamese health authorities have given emergency use approval for the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, the first COVID-19 vaccine to obtain such authorization in the country.
The Health Ministry on February 1 approved AstraZeneca vaccine for domestic inoculation. Currently, this vaccine is licensed for one-year circulation or conditional import in the Philippines, Thailand, the U.K., Vietnam and some other countries to help fight COVID-19.
Five million people, mostly frontline workers, will be given the first jab, with the second (booster shot) to be administered in three months when the next batch is delivered. Other people on the priority list will be the elderly and those with chronic diseases that make them more vulnerable if they get infected, and officials in the diplomatic service.
Related agencies are still in talks with the company for larger supply to Vietnam to ensure inoculation for its near 100 million population.
Vietnam has one locally-made COVID-19 vaccine, Nano Covax, in the second phase human trials, with another expected to start at the end of February.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at a recent cabinet meeting has said that importing COVID-19 vaccines must be considered “the highest priority of the Government,” as the country is battling its biggest wave of community infections, that has recorded over 700 cases since January 27.DT