The Standing Committee of the National Assembly (NA) has agreed to extract VND12 trillion ($520.44 million) from an amount of VND64.76 trillion, which Vietnam has saved from last year’s spending, to buy vaccines.
The NA’s Finance and Budget Committee said it is necessary to serve an urgent issue, and complies with State Budget Law.
Besides, the government has also asked for the NA’s approval to use a sum of VND1.237 trillion left from a pandemic prevention fund for 2020 of the Ministry of Health to buy vaccines.
The Finance and Budget Committee said the government proposal is reasonable given the complicated, unpredictable development of the Covid-19 pandemic.
However, since the State Budget Law does not allow such a sum to be transferred from one year to the next, a final decision would be taken at the coming NA meeting in July.
Vietnam has secured a deal to have Vietnam Vaccine JSC (VNVC) buy 30 million doses from British-Swedish firm AstraZeneca. Of these, 117,600 doses have been delivered.
Through the Global Covid-19 Vaccine Facility (Covax), Vietnam will be provided 38.9 million doses of the vaccine.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said Tuesday authorities need to ensure greater access to Covid-19 vaccines through international collaboration.
The Health Ministry last month said local firms were in talks with companies in the U.S. and India for diversification of vaccine sources as Vietnam seeks to obtain a total 150 million doses this year to immunize 70 percent of its population.
The nation is also developing four Covid-19 vaccines in various stages of testing.
Besides frontline medical workers, medical staff, the military, and police, Vietnam’s priority list for Covid-19 vaccination includes teachers, diplomatic personnel, customs and immigration officers, those working in essential services like transport, people aged 65 and above, the poor, and those with chronic diseases.
People seeking to study or work abroad or living in pandemic-hit areas are also on the list.
The ministry has reported the nation now has 19.4 million people in priority groups, with Ho Chi Minh City accounting for the most at 1.56 million.
Demand for the free vaccine among priority groups, however, could be lower than expected because some are reluctant to receive it following global reports of side effects, the ministry noted.