Vietnam is speeding up its COVID-19 vaccination to ensure the country will have used up the doses provided by COVAX, co-led by the World Health Organization, three weeks before expiry dates.
Coronavirus vaccines tend to have a six-month expiry period but the AstraZeneca shots Vietnam received from COVAX last month are to expire within two months from delivery, the Ministry of Health said during a teleconference on COVID-19 prevention on Friday morning.
On April 1, 811,200 AstraZeneca doses arrived in Vietnam as part of 30 million shots the COVAX scheme had promised to supply to the country free of charge this year.
The COVAX scheme is a facility co-led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF to accelerate the development and manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines as well as ensure fair and equitable access for every country.
Vaccination is being accelerated in Vietnam following a requirement from the health ministry to make the most out of these vaccine shots.
Vietnam has used merely half of the doses so the health ministry insisted local health authorities administer all of the jabs before May 5, which is three weeks prior to expiration dates.
Inoculation has progressed very slowly since Vietnam started it on March 8, after the country received the first-ever shipment of 117,600 AstraZeneca shots via direct purchase from the eponymous company on February 24.
Vietnamese health workers have been cautious about vaccinating people amid reports of blood clotting events in Europe.
Over 73,000 people, including medical staff and other frontline workers, had been immunized against COVID-19 by Friday morning, the health ministry said in a report the same day.
The health ministry added it had recorded zero instances of people suffering blood clots as a postvaccinal complication in Vietnam.
Vietnam had hoped to secure 150 million vaccine shots to vaccinate its population of 97 million this year, but the health ministry has recently said that supply is hard to come by given the stress of the health crisis around the world.
The Southeast Asian country has logged 2,758 COVID-19 cases so far, with 2,445 recoveries and 35 deaths, according to the health ministry's data.
The world reports up to 800,000 new coronavirus cases each day, with a daily global death count of 1,000-2,000 victims, said Dang Quang Tan, a senior official from the health ministry.
The pandemic is apparently raging again, Tan warned.