The move comes after Vietnam became one of the first countries to largely lift its nationwide lockdown on April 22. Whilst currently enjoying a period of no new COVID-19 cases, the government is keen to utilise this time to ensure that the country is not faced with a shortage of medical equipment, particularly ventilators, after a second wave of infections hit Singapore.
It is widely considered that there is still a high level of threat of further COVID-19 outbreaks occurring in the nation due to the country's 1,200 km border with China, in addition to the northern neighbour’s track record of exporting various diseases, most notably SARS in 2003.
A collection of local companies led by Vingroup, the largest Vietnamese conglomerate, have stepped forward in search of partners, made efforts to secure intellectual properties, and have already started research to manufacture the relevant medical equipment.
This comes after Vingroup announced that it has already enjoyed success in manufacturing prototypes of two kinds of ventilators. This came about as a result of co-operation and innovation between Vingroup, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Medtronic of the United States.
"Vietnam faces challenges to purchase ventilators from overseas," stated Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung, largely because at present global demand is far outstripping supply.
The Ministry of Health is working to support the manufacturing of patient monitors, infusion machines, and dialysis machines, according to an official document issued in early April.
The department has yet to declare how many ventilators are needed, but experts estimate that the country has a total of 4,000 ventilators, with Hanoi, one of the largest health care centres, having access to only 300 devices.
According to Nikkei, the government has ambitions to become the region's manufacturing hub, with their being a great desire to tap into the medical market and export products. This follows COVID-19 test kits which were developed by the Vietnamese military now being available in some European markets, such as the UK, Finland, Poland, Ukraine, and Cambodia.
Moreover, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc asked relevant bodies on April 15 to lift a ban on the export of medical equipment, including medical masks and preventive suits, in an attempt to boost domestic stocks.
Elsewhere, Vietnamese smartphone maker BKAV have also stated that their initial prototype ventilator will be ready by mid-May.
In addition, Metran, a Japanese company that has a factory based in Vietnam, stated that they would increase output locally in an attempt to produce ventilators for the domestic market.
Vingroup believe that their first batch of ventilators will be ready for final tests by mid-May, whilst it anticipates a similar timeline to obtain a license in order to mass produce the devices.
Its factory is capable of making 55,000 units a month and the firm is willing to work alongside partners to produce machines for both the domestic and overseas markets.