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Vietnam's Covid-19 Vaccine Strategy Gains Clarity

Vietnam's COVID-19 vaccine strategy is becoming clearer.

As Tet nears and health officials continue to battle the COVID-19 outbreak which began in Hai Duong and Quang Ninh almost two weeks ago and has now appeared in Saigon, different government agencies are starting to publicly discuss vaccination plans for the near future.

The Ministry of Health had previously announced plans to purchase 30 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, and they officially approved the vaccine last week. This would be sufficient to fully vaccinate 15 million people, with the first doses expected to begin arriving in Vietnam within the next two or three months.

VnExpress reports that doctors and other workers who come into frequent contact with COVID-19 patients or suspected cases will be prioritized for the vaccine, along with diplomats, the elderly, and individuals with chronic diseases. It is not yet known how exactly that rollout will be managed, but officials have time, as vaccine shipment dates are also unknown.

"We are still negotiating, but we will try to get the vaccine as soon as possible," the news source quoted Deputy Minister of Health Tran Van Thuan as saying. "What stands in the way now is that the European Union is limiting the export of vaccines."

The municipal government of Hanoi, meanwhile, is pursuing a plan to purchase enough vaccine doses for city residents on its own, while Hai Phong is also attempting this strategy. As of this writing, those plans also lack specifics on cost, timeline, and precisely which vaccine they plan to use.

At the end of January, the Global COVID-19 Vaccine Facility (Covax), a body that works to distribute vaccines to less-developed countries around the world, forecast that Vietnam would receive almost 4.9 million AstraZeneca doses through its program. This would be in addition to the 30 million announced by the health ministry. On Saturday, February 6, the Vietnamese government updated the prediction, noting the country would receive between 4.89 million and 8.25 million doses. 25 to 35 percent would be delivered in the first quarter and the rest in the second quarter.

The ongoing community transmission outbreak has sped up the vaccine timeline for Vietnam, as previously it was suggested that doses wouldn't be available here until later this year. While two domestically produced COVID-19 vaccines are currently in the human trial stage and showing positive results for fighting all COVID-19 strains, they won't be ready for large-scale use until the end of 2021 at the earliest.

[Top image via AstraZeneca]

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