At the meeting, experts said Vietnam has made an urgent effort to secure COVID-19 vaccines, but because of limited supply, the vaccine should be administered based on priority groups. Of which, there are 11 priority groups the Ministry of Health (MoH) has defined in its latest plan on the reception, preservation, distribution and use of COVID-19 vaccines during the 2021-2022 period, giving priority to health care workers, those who join the COVID-19 fight, diplomats, police forces, the military and people working in essential services.
Later, when further supply is secured, Vietnamese people will receive free COVID-19 vaccinations similar to those in the current expanded vaccination programme, while there will also be a small portion of service vaccines for those who can afford it at a higher price.
According to experts, the AstraZeneca vaccine being imported to Vietnam has been pre-assessed by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In principle, upon arriving in Vietnam, the vaccine can be administered immediately.
However, Tran Dac Phu, Vice Chairman of the Advisory Council for the Registration of Circulation of Drugs and Medicinal Ingredients (under the MoH), said that Vietnam will not inject widely without monitoring to both combat the epidemic and control the safety of the vaccines, ensuring that the safest COVID-19 vaccines are given to the population.
Members of the Steering Committee affirmed the Government is directing the domestic production of locally-made COVID-19 vaccines. Accordingly, administrative procedures will be shortened but all safety and stages in vaccine production and development will be ensured.
Vietnam’s locally made COVID-19 vaccine, NanoCovax, is in its second phase of human trials following first phase results which showed the vaccine is safe and 90% effective. The third phase of human trials is expected to start in May. The other two locally made COVID-19 vaccines are in their first phase of human trials.
According to Deputy Health Minister Do Xuan Tuyen, the MoH is currently building a master plan covering training, communication and the list of subjects to be vaccinated.
As the person responsible for signing the plan on the reception, preservation, distribution and use of COVID-19 vaccines during the 2021-2022 period supported by the COVID-19 Vaccine Global Access Facility (COVAX Facility), Deputy Minister Tuyen stated that vaccines from the COVAX Facility are a part of this master plan. In addition, there are other vaccines which Vietnam has ordered from abroad, alongside the vaccines produced domestically.
For the vaccines sourced from COVAX Facility, it is expected by the end of the first quarter or early second quarter this year, the first 4.8 million doses will arrive in Vietnam.
Regarding the ability to cope with any vaccination complications which may occur, the deputy minister said that in evaluating the effectiveness, safety, and dose of the injection, Vietnam is following advice from the WHO and competent international health authorities.
In regards to the plan to vaccinate millions of people in a short time, the ministry also affirmed that responding to and handling complications that may occur post-vaccination is completely within the capacity of the domestic health sector as Vietnam has a lot of experience in implementing expanded immunisation programmes in the past.