HÀ NỘI — The flight carrying a shipment of 500,000 doses of the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine along with 502,400 single-use syringes as aid from the Chinese Government has arrived at Nội Bài International Airport in Hà Nội on Sunday afternoon.
Vietnamese health minister Trần Thanh Long, Chinese ambassador to Việt Nam Xiong Bo, along with diplomatic representatives were present at the reception ceremony.
The medical supplies were transported on a Boeing 787 plane by Vietnam Airlines, with the vaccines stored in specialised cold chain units. The airline crew sent to China all wore protective suits during the entirety of the flight and are now quarantined in Việt Nam after the aircraft touched down and got disinfected.
The vaccine, with the product name Vero Cell, will be given to Chinese nationals living in Việt Nam, Vietnamese people who intend to go to work or study in China and residents in localities bordering China deemed to need the vaccine, according to the health ministry.
The move tracks with China's vaccine passport policy which so far only accept Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccines.
The Vietnamese health ministry on June 3 granted conditional approval of Sinopharm vaccine for use in the emergency outbreak situation, in addition to the Oxford/AstraZeneca, Russia's Sputnik V, and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines.
The Sinopharm vaccine can be kept at normal fridge temperatures (2-8 degrees Celsius) with a shelf life of up to 24 months, making it easy to store and transport.
In the announcement listing Vero Cell for emergency use to allow the vaccine to be used as part of the COVAX initiative, WHO noted the vaccine’s efficacy for symptomatic and hospitalised patients is estimated to be 79 per cent, across all age groups, and recommended the Chinese vaccine for people 18 years and older, in a two-dose schedule with a spacing of three to four weeks.
The Vero Cell vaccine has been supplied, both as aid and via commercial purchases, to 70 countries in the world, including many in Southeast Asia such as Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore and Thailand.
Sinopharm set up a representative office in Việt Nam in 1993. The company supplies 85 per cent of the vaccines used in the National Expanded Programme on Immunisation in China.
The vaccines used in Việt Nam's inoculation campaign have been mainly AstraZeneca, including 2.4 million doses from COVAX, 405,600 doses delivered from the manufacturer via the Việt Nam Vaccine Company, and about 1 million doses donated by the Japanese government.
According to the health ministry, 2,359,376 vaccine doses have been administered in Việt Nam as of 4pm Saturday, with 115,315 people receiving the full two doses. — VNS
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