Officials in the southern Vietnamese province of Binh Duong have registered for 200,000 workers to take part in the ongoing experiment of the homemade vaccine Nano Covax, amid a vaccine supply shortage and surging coronavirus infections.
In an urgent dispatch to the Ministry of Health on Monday, the provincial administration made the registration for a large number of workers to partake in the phase-3 human trial of Nano Covax, developed by Ho Chi Minh City-based Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC.
The registration was made based on the proposal of the Provincial Business Federation amid the scarcity of vaccines while COVID-19 infections have been on the rise, explained the provincial administration.
Mai Huu Tin, chairman of the federation, said that he proposed registering for a large number of local workers to join the trial even though this vaccine has not been approved for use because he and all members of the federation have trust in the efficacy of domestically developed vaccines.
The 200,000 workers registered for the trial account for about 16 percent of the province's total workforce of over 1.2 million workers.
The phase-3 trial of Nano Covax commenced in mid-June and is expected to end this month.
The vaccine is slated to be registered for emergency use authorization in the same month to make the first Vietnamese vaccine available soon.
“Businesses are ready to spend money vaccinating their workers as immunization is the best solution for COVID-19 prevention and control,” Tin said.
At a meeting with State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc on July 23, Ho Nhan, Nanogen general director, reported that after seven months of human trials since December 2020, the vaccine showed no adverse responses while having good immunogenicity and neutralization efficacy, including for the Delta variant of the coronavirus.
Binh Duong authorities have announced free COVID-19 vaccination for all residents and now need 3.2 million coronavirus vaccine doses to immunize over 95 percent of people over 18 years old to reach herd immunity.
However, only 97,600 shots have been administered so far and local health authorities are speeding up inoculation with 285,000 doses having been distributed by the health ministry.
Nationwide, the numbers of people receiving the first and second vaccine doses have reached nearly 6.25 million and 713,000, respectively, while Vietnam needs as many as 150 million vaccine doses to vaccinate two-thirds of its 98 million population, the ministry said.
Binh Duong, one of the industrial park hubs in the southern part of Vietnam, is home to a great deal of immigrant workers who represent most of the province’s workforce.
The province, the second-largest COVID-19 hotspot after Ho Chi Minh City, has recorded 17,800 coronavirus infections to date and the figure may increase to 20,000 in the near future, local sources said.
Since the pandemic hit the country in early 2020, 165,339 infections have been documented, including 163,052 domestic and 2,287 imported cases, of which 46,965 have recovered and 1,881 others died, the health ministry reported on Tuesday morning.
Of the domestic patients, 161,482 have been recorded since April 27, when the pandemic’s fourth wave kicked off in the Southeast Asian country, with the highly contagious Delta variant being dominant.