A batch of 300,000 AstraZeneca vaccine jabs and other medical items donated by Australia were handed over to a Vietnamese agency in Hanoi on Wednesday, as part of the donor’s commitments to help the Southeast Asian country in its COVID-19 fight.
Robyn Mudie, Australian Ambassador to Vietnam, and Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Health Truong Quoc Cuong attended the handover ceremony at the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology, the Australian Embassy said on its verified Facebook page.
Ambassador Mudie formally gave the vaccine batch, which arrived in Hanoi last week, to the institute.
She also handed over 614,400 N95 respirators and surgical masks together with 40,800 isolation gowns, which Australia recently delivered to Vietnam, to the agency.
With this vaccine donation being the second so far, Vietnam has received from Australia over 700,000 AstraZeneca doses, part of the 1.5 million shots Australia had previously pledged to provide Vietnam in 2021.
Australia will assist Vietnam in purchasing approximately 3.7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses through an agreement with UNICEF, Ambassador Mudie said at the ceremony.
This means Vietnam will secure a total of 5.2 million vaccine shots while Australia’s total contribution to vaccine access in the Southeast Asian country will reach AU$60 million (US$43.7 million).
Mudie added that she was very happy to see more vaccine doses delivered to Hanoi.
Australia is working in partnership with UNICEF to support cold chain upgrades, training for healthcare workers, communications, and planning and implementation of the vaccine rollout in remote provinces in Vietnam, the diplomat stated.
“Australia stands together with Vietnam in its efforts to contain the pandemic and chart a course toward economic recovery,” the Australian Embassy said.
Deputy Minister Cuong thanked the Australian government and people for sharing vaccines and supporting Vietnam in the fight against COVID-19.
“This valuable support, which symbolizes the 48-year diplomatic relationship between the two countries, helps Vietnam access more vaccine sources to curb the coronavirus spread,” Cuong said.
Besides Australia, Vietnam has received COVID-19 vaccines donated by many other countries, including the U.S. with over 7.5 million doses and Japan with more than 3.5 million jabs.
The Vietnamese health ministry has approved eight vaccines for emergency use in the country, including the UK’s AstraZeneca, China’s Sinopharm, Russia’s Sputnik V, the UAE’s Hayat-Vax, Cuba’s Abdala, and three U.S. products including Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.
Vietnam’s Nano Covax vaccine candidate, after some successful trials, is undergoing further steps to be ratified for emergency use.
The nation has targeted to secure 150 million of COVID-19 vaccine doses to immunize two-thirds of it 98-million population and it has so far got over 60 million doses from different sources, including COVAX Facility, contractual purchases, and donations.
By Wednesday evening, the country had administered over 35.93 million first shots and some 12.22 million second doses to people nationwide, the health ministry reported.
Since the pandemic erupted in Vietnam in early 2020, the Southeast Asian nation has documented 822,687 COVID-19 cases, including 757,086 recoveries and 20,098 deaths.
Except Cao Bang, the coronavirus has spread to 62 out of Vietnam’s 63 cities and provinces, Ho Chi Minh City suffering the most with 400,557 infections including 15,433 fatalities.