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Jun 09, 2021 / 17:35

Vietnam encourages embassies to import Covid-19 vaccines

Vietnam begins vaccinating foreign diplomats in Hanoi today.

Embassies in Vietnam are encouraged to import the Covid-19 vaccines to administer to their citizens living in Vietnam, said the Ministry of Health (MoH).

 Vietnam's Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long. Photos: Thai Binh

“Embassies can import Covid-19 vaccines by non-commercial way to administer their communities working in Vietnam. The MoH will support the import, quality verification, and free-of-charge vaccination, if necessary,” Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said Tuesday [June 8].

Long made the statement at the meeting with Ambassadors of Australia, France, and Switzerland to Vietnam in response to the request to vaccinate foreign communities living in the Southeast Asian country.

The minister said that Vietnam wants to give jabs to all people but a thin vaccine supply has forced the country to pick up frontline forces and residents in affected areas first.

Around 1.39 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have been administered to local people in the country of 100 million population or equal to 1.42 doses per 100 heads.

At the meeting, Long expected the ambassadors to support the vaccine supply to Vietnam through the COVAX Facility, tech transfer, and the availability by multinational companies.

 Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Robyn Mudie. 

Australian Ambassador to Vietnam Robyn Mudie said Australia has pledged AUD40 million (US$30.9 million) for Vietnam in three years to get the Covid-19 vaccines. It will also provide technical support through the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

She said Australia is producing the Covid-19 vaccines. It's expected to supply the vaccine to Vietnam after half a year.

Long highly appreciated the Australian government’s assistance in finance, vaccine supply, cold chain, vaccine refrigerators, and refrigerated vehicles.

He hoped that one-third of the financial assistance would be used to buy Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for Vietnam’s children aging between 12 and 18.

 Swiss Ambassador Ivo Sieber.

Swiss Ambassador Ivo Sieber said the government of Switzerland has contributed three million doses of vaccine to the COVAX Facility and extended technical support to developing countries.

He said Swiss pharmaceutical companies working in Vietnam have pledged to support the country in vaccine access.

Long told the ambassador that he hoped DKSH and Zuellig Pharma to speed up the vaccine supply to Vietnam and highly appreciated Roche’s support in the fight against Covid-19 in the country, noting that the Ministry of Health will continue trimming down import procedures for the drug.

Zuellig Pharma is authorized to deliver five million doses of Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to Vietnam.

Authorities of Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), the southern business hub where is suffering the fresh outbreak, have asked the ministry to deliver the whole batch of Moderna vaccine to the city. “We hope that Moderna vaccine will be soon available in the HCMC to help us stamp out the pandemic,” Long said.

“We will convey as soon as possible the message on promoting COVAX vaccine supply by Vietnamese Health Minister,” Sieber said.

 French Ambassador Nicolas Warnery.

French Ambassador Nicolas Warnery said the long-lasting cooperation in the healthcare sector between France and Vietnam has prompted further support to Hanoi, including the possibility of Covid-19 vaccine tech transfer.

Long expected that Vietnam will soon get the vaccines from France as Sanofi and some other French pharmaceuticals are conducting the third phase clinical trials. 

Long supported the French Embassy’s proposal to import Johnson&Johnson Covid-19 vaccine for the French community in Vietnam with the vaccination priority given to those aged above 55.

Some international organizations and embassies have imported vaccines under the support of the ministry.

In another move, today [June 9] Vietnam offers vaccination to foreign diplomats in Hanoi.

  UNICEF Vietnam Representative Rana Flowers. Photo: Tran Minh

Vietnam seeks Pfizer vaccine for children

Vietnam is seeking for Covid-19 vaccine for children with a preference for Pfizer.

Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long has expressed the idea with Ambassadors of Australia, France, and Switzerland to Vietnam and Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Vietnam.

Long expected one-third of Australia’s AUD40 million (US$31 million) will be used for the inoculation among children aged between 12 and 18, in addition to vaccines from the COVAX Facility in July and August through the delivery of UNICEF.

Regarding the quarantine for children, Long told UNICEF Representative in Vietnam Rana Flowers on June 8 that Vietnam has changed quarantine regulations to be more suitable with children, affirming that the country ensures the regulations don’t breach the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Children under 5 are quarantined at home and those above 5 would be sent to centralized quarantine with guardians.

Rana Flowers brought a good news that a batch of 1,910 vaccine refrigerators is scheduled to arrive in Vietnam in late July, the first delivery of the cold chain equipment program funded by Australia.

“UNICEF has worked with the Ministry of Health to assess ‘cold chain’ capacity identifying where new fridges, freezers, refrigerator trucks, and cold boxes are needed for the safe transportation and storage of vaccines. This is important for the safe rollout of Covid-19 vaccines as well as for the regular life-saving vaccines that are crucial for every child,” stated Rana Flowers.