Vietnam welcomed the arrival of the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday, February 24. The cargo containing 117, 600 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines landed at the Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City.
Deputy Health Minister Trương Quốc Cường and British Consul-General Emily Hamblin, holding their respective country’s flag, were there to see first-hand the major milestone in Vietnam’s fight against the pandemic.
“Very exciting to be at the airport in HCMC for the very first shipment of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine. We’re thrilled that this showcase of science and innovation is now in Vietnam, and ready to be rolled out to the Vietnamese public - contributing to the fight against COVID-19,” wrote Hamblin on Twitter.
The vaccines that arrived Wednesday morning are part of the initial order of 204,000 which was given import emergency approval by the Ministry of Health weeks ago, immediately after the new local cases in Hai Duong province were discovered.
AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical company, is included in the World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing for active immunization and global access. Vietnam has signed a contract with AstraZeneca in November 2020 to produce and deliver 30 million doses which will be delivered in phases throughout 2021. Aside from the 30 million doses, Vietnam will be receiving 30 million more from WHO-led COVAX scheme.
According to WHO, the vaccines will be given in two doses, administered at a four to 12-week interval.
At the airport Wednesday morning, containers aboard the Korean Air flight KE351 from Seoul were disinfected then transported to a specialized cold chain facility managed by VNVC.
The first batch of COVID-19 vaccines will be used to inoculate over 500,000 health workers. The Vietnamese government already rolled out plans on vaccine prioritization on Tuesday. After healthcare workers, diplomats, military personnel, teachers, aviation and tourism workers, people aged 65 and above, those with chronic diseases and those working in essential services will be given priority.
Outbreak “basically controlled well”
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, head of the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control said on Tuesday that the outbreak that started in the northern provinces is now basically controlled well.
With Vietnam sharing a long border with different countries, including China, where the pandemic started, the country has made incredible efforts to successfully contain the coronavirus.
Since the beginning of the health crisis, Vietnam has registered 2,403 cases, only 643 of which are active. The country also had zero local infections for months, making it one of the very few countries around the world to have not undergone full lockdown. The country has also continuously allowed the entry of foreign experts to serve its socio-economic developments.
The Deputy PM, however, said that vigilance is still a must. “We have to stay ready all the time. Fighting the pandemic requires us to be as quick, drastic and coherent as possible.”
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Vietnamese most satisfied with gov’t response to pandemic among ASEAN countries, according to survey
“The State of Southeast Asia: 2021” survey revealed that the Vietnamese people approve of their government’s COVID-19 actions and policies. More than 96% of the Vietnamese respondents gave strong approval ratings, slightly higher than Singapore.
Majority of the Vietnamese respondents also think that the government has “adequately implemented public health measures to mitigate the pandemic”, while some paid tribute to scientists and doctors who contributed to public policy discussions that led to Vietnam’s success.
The ASEAN Studies Center tapped 1,032 respondents from the ten ASEAN member states. Vietnam led with the highest number of respondents at 175. The largest group of respondents are from the academica, think-tanks or research institutions, as well as from civil society organizations and the private sector.
Many of the respondents also believe that Vietnam (31.1%) and Singapore (32.7%) provided the best leadership to ASEAN in COVID-19 handling. Across all countries in the region, only Brunei and Vietnam picked Vietnam, while the other eight member states chose Singapore.