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Vietnam prioritizes domestic COVID-19 jabs over foreign procurement

Tuesday, December 22, 2020, 16:11 GMT+7
Vietnam prioritizes domestic COVID-19 jabs over foreign procurement
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc chairs a government meeting in this photo supplied by the Vietnam Government Portal.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked relevant authorities to support domestic efforts in manufacturing COVID-19 vaccines besides sourcing foreign shots.

The orientation was stated by the prime minister during his presiding over a government meeting on Monday.

Phuc assigned the Ministry of Heath as the leader of a consortium including the Ministry of Science and Technology and relevant agencies, whose responsibility is evaluating the vaccine manufacturing capacity of domestic firms to provide them with timely assistance.

The premier also tasked the health ministry with compiling the results and knowledge from the clinical trials of COVID-19 vaccines in other countries, which would help accelerate the clinical test of Nanocovax – Vietnam’s first homegrown jab.

The ministry is also required to support Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology – the developer of Nanocovax – in the third phase of clinical trials.

The Vietnam Military Medical University, the Institute of Biotechnology under the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, and other relevant institutes are charged with the formulation and submission of a proposal to build a new research base specialized in developing vaccines for infectious diseases on humans.

The project, envisioned with a biosafety level of three or four, will be funded by the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Planning and Investment, and the Ministry of National Defense.

Foreign vaccine purchase

The prime minister also insisted on an adequate stock of vaccines to ensure public heath safety.

“The Ministry of Health should complete a proposal with information of quantity, price, vaccine receivers, methods, effectiveness, and suitable providers. Both public budgets and private investments need to be mobilized,” he said.

The Ministry of Health must find more suppliers with more diverse choices in vaccine procurement mechanisms.

As Vietnam can take care of the packaging step, buying the ungarnished products from suppliers is approved, Phuc stated.

He required local developers to accelerate their clinical trial progress, reducing the duration of the three trial phases to as short as possible.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health must consult multiple information sources to complete a vaccine plan for government appraisal.

According to the Ministry of Health, the second round of Nanocovax shots on volunteers is held on Tuesday after the first one took place last Thursday.

The second phase of Nanocovax testing will be held once half of the results from the first phase are in.

In this phase, around 400 to 600 volunteers are expected to receive the jab in March 2021 to test its capacity to trigger immune response.

Subsequently, the third phase will involve 1,500 to 3,000 volunteers, which may expand to 10,000 to 30,000 people, and be implemented outside Vietnam.

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