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Vietnam Approves Oxford Vaccine; First Batch to Arrive This Quarter

Good news.

The Vietnamese government's official news portal reported over the weekend that the Ministry of Health has approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine of use in Vietnam.

Nguyễn Thanh Long, the health minister, told the news source that vaccine doses are expected to be available in the first quarter of this year. Previously, officials had said that 30 million doses, enough for 15 million people, would be delivered to Vietnam by the fourth quarter of 2021.

The sped-up delivery timeline seems to be in response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak linked to Hai Duong and Quang Ninh provinces, though it is not clear exactly when the vaccine will arrive or who will be first in line to receive it.

This outbreak has led to 240 known cases of community transmission last Wednesday in nine cities and provinces, including Saigon and Binh Duong, though the majority remain in northern provinces, specifically Hai Duong.

Schools in 23 provinces including Saigon, Binh Duong, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Binh Phuoc in southern Vietnam have been closeda as of today, one week earlier than planned, for the Tet holiday in response to the outbreak. Reuters adds that Hai Phong officials have said they will pursue a plan to procure 2 million vaccine doses for city residents, though it is unknown which type of vaccine this will be.

The wire service also reported that the government is deploying enough material and equipment to handle a hypothetical situation in which 10,000 COVID-19 cases were discovered by the Tet holiday. As of now, the country's case total is 1,819, 324 of which are active.

[Top photo via Sky News]