More than 1.2 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine have arrived in Vietnam under an ongoing contract between a Vietnamese firm and the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company amid the country’s heightened fight against COVID-19.
The shipment, which landed at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday evening, is the ninth delivery under the 30-million dose contract between Vietnam Vaccine Joint Stock Company (VNVC) and the vaccine’s developer, British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca, the Ministry of Health reported on Friday.
VNVC has so far received about 6.7 million vaccine doses from the contract.
Vietnam needs to acquire 150 million vaccine doses to inoculate two-thirds of its 98-million population and reach herd immunity, but until now, the country has only received 24 million jabs from the COVAX Facility, purchases, and donations, the ministry said.
Out of the total, 14.3 million doses, or 62 percent, have come from AstraZeneca.
During a phone call with AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot on Thursday afternoon, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh requested the executive to speed up the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to the country, particularly the eight million shots that are committed for arrival in August, the Vietnam News Agency reported.
It is expected that over the next two months, about 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine will be delivered to Vietnam, according to Deputy Minister of Health Tran Van Thuan.
Nano Covax is slated to be registered for emergency approval in August as part of an effort to make the first Vietnamese vaccine available as soon as possible in order to dampen the spread of the virus.
The country is speeding up vaccination and has administered more than 15.9 million doses nationwide, with 1.6 million people fully vaccinated since inoculation was rolled out on March 8, according to health ministry's data.
Since the pandemic hit Vietnam in early 2020, the nation has documented 312,611 cases of COVID-19, ranking 77th among 222 countries and territories in the world, the ministry reported on Thursday evening.
There have been 120,059 recoveries and 7,150 deaths, or 2.3 percent of the total infections, equivalent to the world’s coronavirus death rate.
In Ho Chi Minh City alone, the number of cases has topped 164,000 and the death toll has reached 5,759.
Since late April, when the fourth wave erupted in Vietnam, the country has registered 308,559 domestic infections, with the highly contagious Delta variant dominant in the majority of cases.
The pandemic has now spread to 62 out of the country’s 63 cities and provinces, with Ho Chi Minh City topping the list, followed by southern Binh Duong, Long An, and Dong Nai Provinces.
The only locality in Vietnam that has yet to be affected by COVID-19 is Cao Bang Province, where measures against coronavirus penetration are strictly applied.