Vietnam rehearses Covid-19 vaccine transport to prepare for mass inoculation

A drill to transport AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines took place Friday night in HCMC prior to large-scale administration starting next Monday.

Vietnam, Covid-19 vaccines, AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines

Two staff of Vietnam Vaccine JSC (VNVC), importer of Covid-19 vaccines to Vietnam, stand outside a freezer where the vaccines are kept.
As required by developers, British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca and Oxford University, the doses are being stored at a temperature of minus 2-8 degrees Celsius. VNVC had started work on a freezer and super-cold storage system in Ho Chi Minh City during October and November last year when Vietnam was still negotiating to buy the vaccine.
Last Wednesday, 117,600 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine arrived in HCMC on a flight from Seoul. They are the first batch of 30 million doses Vietnam had ordered from the company.

Vietnam, Covid-19 vaccines, AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines

Only those assigned by the firm could enter and operate within this area.

Vietnam, Covid-19 vaccines, AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines

Part of the 117,600 vaccine doses inside the freezer.
There is only one path in and out of the area where the vaccines are kept. This area is monitored around the clock via security cameras.
Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said Friday that after working with South Korea to evaluate the quality of the batch, it is now concluded the vaccine is eligible for inoculation. He also announced prioritized groups would be injected with the first batch starting next Monday.

Vietnam, Covid-19 vaccines, AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines

A staff member uses a forklift to practice unloading a supposed shipment of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
A VNVC representative said the AstraZeneca vaccine requires the same storage conditions and transport process like many other vaccines currently in use across Vietnam. However, this is a new vaccine that had been imported in a rush to curb an ongoing pandemic, and that all related processes and procedures must be carried out carefully to minimize any possible risks.

Vietnam, Covid-19 vaccines, AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines

Outside the freezer, a staff member places reusable dry ice gel packs into a Styrofoam box. Those boxes would store vaccine doses temporarily when transported from storage to specialized distribution trucks.

Vietnam, Covid-19 vaccines, AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines

Each box contain a certain amount of doses depending on the detailed plan of vaccination for each locality as regulated by the Health Ministry.

Vietnam, Covid-19 vaccines, AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines

Tran Han Tuan, 37, head of the VNVC warehouse department in southern Vietnam, said the truck is parked 2.8 meters from the freezer’s door and that loading a box takes only ten seconds. Therefore, "all movements must be especially quick and accurate." "We have yet to make any mistakes, but remain quite nervous since the entire nation is counting on this first batch of vaccines," he noted.

Vietnam, Covid-19 vaccines, AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines

The back door of the truck will be opened in only one minute to receive the vaccines to ensure their quality remains unaffected by exterior conditions.

Vietnam, Covid-19 vaccines, AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines

A package of vaccines is taken out of a Styrofoam box.
On the truck, an indoor unit system would be readied before the vaccine enters. The entire cargo bed has been accessed to meet all temperature standards. It has also met GSP (good storage practice) and GDP (good medicine distribution practice) standards according to Health Ministry regulations.

Vietnam, Covid-19 vaccines, AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines

Each package of vaccines is equipped with a temperature measuring device. If the temperature exceeds the allowable limit (2-8 degrees Celsius), this device will raise an alarm, which means the shipment is not eligible for administration.

Vietnam, Covid-19 vaccines, AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines

Two freezer trucks, valued at more than VND1 billion ($43,400) each, will be in use for the upcoming mass vaccination. For now, 13 cities and provinces that have recorded community transmissions in the latest wave that broke out in late January will receive the vaccine first. They include northern provinces of Hai Duong and Quang Ninh where the outbreak started on Jan.28, along with HCMC and Hanoi.
The vaccine will be transported by trucks to localities in southern Vietnam and to the rest, by plane.
From Monday, those directly treating Covid-19 patients at 18 medical facilities and prioritized categories of people in 13 pandemic-hit localities, with Covid-19 epicenter Hai Duong given the highest priority, will be among the first to be vaccinated.
While the production of domestic vaccines is underway, Vietnam has speeded up foreign procurement to inoculate prioritized groups. The government has said it is stepping up negotiations with vaccine manufacturers in the U.S., Russia and some other countries to ensure it could obtain a total 150 million doses to cover 70 percent of its population.

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