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Vietnamese health ministry warns of COVID-19 vaccine fraud

Thursday, March 11, 2021, 15:20 GMT+7
Vietnamese health ministry warns of COVID-19 vaccine fraud
A vial of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine is pictured at a hospital in Hanoi, March 8, 20221. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

Vietnam’s Ministry of Heath has warned of fraudulent schemes related to the sale of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.

Many local and foreign organizations and businesses have contacted the Vietnamese Ministry of Health offering to supply COVID-19 shots from such producers as Moderna and AstraZeneca, the ministry said in an announcement on Wednesday.

These producers, however, have yet to authorize such organizations and businesses to sell their shots.

On March 1, AstraZeneca sent a letter to assert that it had not authorized any other organizations to distribute its vaccine in Vietnam aside from the COVAX scheme, the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), and Vietnam Vaccine JSC (VNVC).

Moderna has also said that the firm has yet to authorize any organizations to import or sell its COVID-19 jab in Vietnam.

Other producers, including Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, already have branches in Vietnam, which eliminates any need for middlemen.

Regarding Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, the Embassy of Russia in Vietnam stated that the import, sale, or cooperation related to the vaccine must be discussed with the Russian Direct Investment Fund.

China and India have confirmed that the purchase and import of their COVID-19 vaccines must be approved by their governments.

In an announcement on February 15, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) warned all governments of potential scams in the sale of COVID-19 vaccine.

Vaccine sale fraud could come in many forms, according to OLAF.

“For example fraudsters may offer to sell large quantities of vaccines, deliver a sample in order to pocket the first advance payment and then vanish with the money,” said Ville Itälä, Director-General of the OLAF.

“They may deliver batches of fake vaccines. Or they may falsely purport to represent legitimate business and claim to be in the possession of or have access to vaccines.”

The Vietnamese health ministry has encouraged competent businesses to negotiate with their partners to import COVID-19 vaccine into the country, but these businesses are advised to be cautious while verifying cooperation offers in order to ensure legal and commercial safety.

Businesses can also seek assistance from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Public Security, or diplomatic and trade agencies in verifying necessary information.

The negotiation and purchase of COVID-19 vaccine should be promptly reported to the health ministry so that the import, management, and vaccination process can be carried out in line with regulations.

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