The PM made this request following the conclusion of a cabinet meeting on May 17, during which Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long stated that the US manufacturer has yet to accept negotiations regarding prices and conditions of a potential deal. Therefore, the Vietnamese side must reply to Pfizer/BioNTech by May 18 at the latest.
He went on to emphasise that purchasing COVID-19 vaccines must increasingly be considered a necessary and urgent action, one that should be done in accordance with guidelines set by the Political Bureau and Secretariat of the Communist Party of Vietnam, as well as the Government’s resolution.
PM Chinh has asked the Ministry of Health (MoH), which is responsible for selecting the vaccines, to join relevant ministries and agencies in order to devise solutions which can allow the country to get further doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine as soon as possible, for the sake of people’s health.
“This is an urgent situation... and must be done immediately,” the PM said as part of his conclusions at the meeting.
He assigned the Ministry of Planning and Investment to appraise the MoH’s vaccine purchase plan and also to select contractors under the Bidding Law before submitting the proposal to the PM for further consideration and approval.
The MoH reported on May 14 that Vietnam is anticipated to receive approximately 110 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines this year, including 38.9 million doses from the UN-administered COVAX Facility, and 30 million doses from AstraZeneca. It is now in the process of seeking a deal with Pfizer/BioNtech to get the remaining 31 million doses.
The country has imported more than 117,000 doses in the first batch in line with the terms of the AstraZeneca deal. It has also received roughly 2.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the COVAX Facility.
The MoH has stated that it is also negotiating with other vaccine manufacturers such as Moderna of the US, Sputnik V of Russia, and Sinopharm of China to purchase other types of vaccines for domestic use.
The MoH has approved the AstraZeneca and Sputnik V vaccines for emergency use locally.
Domestically, four research institutes and biotech companies are in the process of researching and developing Made-in-Vietnam vaccines, and the first such vaccine is expected to be commercially marketed in 2022.
So far nearly one million people have been given the AstraZeneca vaccine shot since the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign was launched on March 8. Most of the administered recipients include frontline healthcare workers and on-duty officials in high-risk areas.