Vietnam’s Ministry of Health has asked United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) for help in speeding up the delivery of coronavirus vaccines to the country as it is battling the worst-ever wave of infections.
At his meeting with Rana Flowers, UNICEF representative in Vietnam, on Wednesday, Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long requested the organization to work with COVAX, a global initiative for fair supply of COVID-19 vaccines, to accelerate the provision of jabs for the Southeast Asian nation.
Vietnam is facing the pandemic’s fourth wave, in which the appearance of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, first detected in India, has caused quicker infection and more serious disease progress, the minister told Flowers.
The country has placed orders to purchase COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate about two-thirds of its 98 million-strong population by the end of this year to reach herd immunity, but the delivery of vaccines to Vietnam is very slow, he said.
COVAX has pledged to supply 38.9 million doses of vaccine to Vietnam, but only 2.5 million AstraZeneca shots have arrived in the country to date.
“Vietnam is committed to using up the supplied vaccine volume equitably and effectively," the minister told the UNICEF representative.
In her reply, Flowers said more jabs would come to Vietnam next month.
With funding from the Australian government, UNICEF, and some other organizations, Vietnam has registered to buy 1,910 high-capacity refrigerators for storage of COVID-19 vaccines, a source told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
These fridges, along with five million syringes, will be delivered to Vietnam in July.
So far, only about 1.37 million vaccine shots have been administered to medical staff and other frontline workers in Vietnam while those receiving their second shots have reached around 42,100.
As vaccination has merely covered two percent of the population, a low proportion compared to other regional countries, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has requested agencies concerned to boost implementation of the vaccination strategy.
Earlier, Vietnam donated US$500,000 to COVAX, representing the country’s high appreciation for this program’s efforts to provide coronavirus vaccines for poor countries around the world.
The health ministry on Thursday noon confirmed 88 new coronavirus cases, including 86 domestic and two imported infections.
These new cases have taken the country’s tally of patients to 9,723 cases, including 3,636 recoveries and 55 deaths.
Since April 27, when the pandemic’s fourth wave began in Vietnam, the country has documented 6,537 domestic infections in 39 cities and provinces, according to the health ministry's data.