Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long asked Mission Director for USAID Vietnam Ann Marie Yastishock for help in speeding up the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech to Vietnam at a meeting late on Tuesday.
During the talks, Long thanked the U.S. government for their support, especially for the donation of five million doses of Moderna vaccine via the COVAX Facility.
However, Vietnam is suffering from a severe wave of infections and a serious shortage of vaccines, given the highly contagious Delta variant.
Meanwhile, a majority of 31 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses Vietnam purchased and 20 million more shots it is preparing to finalize a deal for will only arrive in the last quarter of this year.
The health minister thus asked the U.S. representative to work with Pfizer Inc. to accelerate the vaccine delivery in order to help Vietnam expedite vaccination.
Yastishock said that the U.S. government had struck a deal with Pfizer Inc. to provide 500 million doses of vaccine to various developing countries between 2021 and 2022, and that USAID in Vietnam is working with Washington to secure donations of the vaccine.
The USAID director added that the U.S. government has also agreed to provide Vietnam with US$4.5 million to support vaccination and improve the capacity of the Southeast Asian country’s health system in the fight against COVID-19.
While appreciating the support, Minister Long insisted that if possible, the vaccine donations should come between August and September.
The health minister also expected that the U.S. will help with high-flow ventilators to treat critical COVID-19 patients and ultra-cold storage equipment to keep mRNA vaccines like Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna at the correct temperature.
According to USAID, 77 ultra-cold storage freezers are expected to arrive in Vietnam in early September.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had already announced the delivery during his July visit to Vietnam.
During a meeting with U.S. CDC representatives in Vietnam on Tuesday, Minister Long reiterated his calls for the U.S. to give priority of vaccine access to his country.
Noting that Vietnam’s vaccination rate has increased rapidly, the U.S. side said that this is an important basis for the agency to mobilize other organizations to bring more vaccines to Vietnam.
The U.S. CDC believed that the additional vaccines delivered to Vietnam will be administered “quickly and effectively.”
The agency also affirmed that it is ready to coordinate with the Vietnamese Ministry of Health in technical exchange and sharing information and experience in the pandemic prevention.
To date, Vietnam has received some 19 million doses of various vaccines, with more than 7.55 million doses administered and about 779,000 people fully inoculated.