Vietnam hopes for more foreign support in accessing COVID-19 vaccines

Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long proposed that Australia, France, and Switzerland create the conditions needed for Vietnam to access more COVID-19 vaccine sources during separate meetings with the countries’ ambassadors in Hanoi on June 8.

The minister thanked the governments of the three countries for supporting Vietnam in its COVID-19 prevention and control efforts, including assistance in providing vaccines through the COVAX Facility, which is currently its largest source of vaccines.

He emphasised that one of Vietnam’s priorities in COVID-19 prevention and control is to achieve early and broad access to vaccines. Though the Ministry of Health (MoH) has been attempting to access all possible vaccine sources, the minister expressed his hope that Australia, France, and Switzerland would continue to pay attention to helping Vietnam access more sources, he said.

The ambassadors lauded the effectiveness of Vietnam’s COVID-19 prevention and control efforts and pledged to continue to cooperate with the country in this regard.

The MoH hopes to use aid from Australia to buy Pfizer vaccines for Vietnamese children aged from 12-18, and would like Australia to provide more doses to Vietnam, he said.

Australian Ambassador Robyn Mudie said her country is speeding up measures so as to provide more doses to Vietnam. Australia is producing COVID-19 vaccines, she added, and expressed her hope that the country can directly supply vaccines to Vietnam in half a year. Meanwhile, Swiss Ambassador Ivo Siebber said his country is applying drastic policies on COVID-19 vaccines to meet domestic demand while contributing funds to purchase 3 million doses for the COVAX Facility and providing technical assistance for developing countries.

The ambassador said Swiss pharmaceutical firms in Vietnam have affirmed they are willing to support the country, especially in pandemic prevention and control and including vaccine access.

Long expressed his hope that Swiss pharmaceutical firms DKSH and Zuellig Pharma will speed up their vaccine provision to Vietnam. Zuellig Pharma has been authorised by Moderna to provide 5 million doses for Vietnam, he said, adding that the two companies will work with the MoH to identify the fastest way possible to bring vaccines to Vietnam. At his meeting with French Ambassador Nicolas Warnery, Long said Vietnam hopes that the two countries will cooperate in technology transfer relating to vaccine production.

The ambassador said France is considering Vietnam’s proposals.

He suggested importing the Johnson&Johnson vaccine to immunise the French community in Vietnam, with priority given to people over 55 years of age.

Long supported the idea of importing vaccines in non-commercial form.

The MoH will create optimal conditions for enterprises to import vaccines and immunise workers in French-invested enterprises in Vietnam, he said, adding that it has sent requests to Johnson&Johnson and other vaccine providers about being licenced in Vietnam.

Administrative procedures have been simplified so that the MoH can approve a vaccine in 5-10 days in urgent circumstances.

The French ambassador pledged to work with relevant agencies to promptly provide vaccines to Vietnam and choose partners to conduct vaccinations.

At the meetings, Long said Vietnam hopes to vaccinate all people against COVID-19, but due to a lack of vaccines, priority has been given to those in pandemic-hit areas and to frontline forces.

He suggested that embassies import vaccines through non-commercial channels to vaccinate their citizens in Vietnam. The MoH will provide them with maximum support in the importation, procedures and verification, he said./.

Source: Vietnam News Agency