Night view of Biên Hoà Chemical Plant, the branch of South Basic Chemicals, in Biên Hoà City. — Photo courtesy of South Basic Chemicals
Ly Ly Cao
HÀ NỘI — As the number of COVID-19 cases has surged since the fourth wave hit the country in late April, the need for chemical products like oxygen and disinfectants have increased, requiring chemical producers to ramp up production to meet market demand.
Việt Nam recorded a total of over 6,000 local COVID-19 in the current fourth wave of infections since late April to date, while the death toll rose to 55, most of whom with serious underlying illnesses.
Bắc Giang remains the biggest hot spot in the country in this wave with over 3,300 infections, followed by the outbreak in Bắc Ninh with caseload surpassing 1,100.
To respond quickly in case the number of patients keeps surging, medical units, hospitals, airlines, and industrial parks have stored oxygen and other important chemical products.
Local chemical manufacturers have increased their inventories in order to ensure products are available to meet the market needs.
For example, oxygen inventories in the warehouse of Industrial Gas and Welding Electrode JSC (Sovigaz), a leading state-owned company in producing oxygen, industrial gas, rod electrodes and chemicals in Việt Nam, are 1.5 times higher than that of the same period last year, the company said.
With the current nationwide consumption of 3,000 – 4,000 tonnes of oxygen per month, the chemical manufacturer said that it could meet the whole country's demand without increasing the price as its production capacity is 7,000 tonnes per month, double the current demand.
The company’s oxygen supply accounts for over 60 per cent of the total market share with nearly 100 big hospitals, such as Chợ Rẫy Hospital and Từ Dũ Hospital in HCM City, or Vietnam-Czechoslovak Friendship Hospital in Hải Phòng City, using its products.
One of the two production lines of Sovigaz can supply 180 tonnes of oxygen per day to the market. These production lines operate continuously throughout the year and only stop work for 7 - 10 days for maintenance.
“Sovigaz even had to refused to supply products to some enterprises collecting medical equipment to sell to the Indian market as it prioritises the domestic market,” Trịnh Anh Phong, General Director of Sovigaz, said.
"Make it your game"
Disinfectants, especially Chloramine B, are also crucial to the fight against the spread of COVID-19.
South Basic Chemicals JSC, a leading inorganic chemical manufacturer in Việt Nam and a member of Việt Nam National Chemical Group, has committed to ensuring output to meet the rising demand for the chemical.
It is the first Vietnamese company to complete research and successfully produce Chloramine B, which has been licensed by the Ministry of Health for circulation.
Previously, Chloramine B was imported from the European Union and China. But inflated prices due to disruptions in supply chains around the world during the outbreak of COVID-19 pushed domestic companies to start producing the chemical.
Currently, South Basic Chemicals’ Chloramine B price is around VNĐ200,000 (US$8.7) per kilo, which is only 60 per cent of the cost of imported goods.
As most hospitals and schools in Việt Nam use Chloramine B to disinfect and clean surfaces, this is an opportunity for developing the product and promoting the use of Made-in-Việt Nam goods.
“At the moment, the company can produce one tonne of Chloramine B per day and we can raise production capacity, if necessary, to meet market demand,” South Basic Chemicals wrote in an email to Việt Nam News.
Despite the infections causing many difficulties for the company's production activities, it still finds solutions to overcome those challenges.
“Our employees have to divide into shifts to work online, while production and business activities must comply with the 5K rules which are ‘Khẩu trang’ (face mask), ‘Khử khuẩn’ (disinfection), ‘Khoảng cách’ (distance), ‘Không tụ tập’ (no gathering), and ‘Khai báo y tế’ (health declaration),” the company said.
“At the same time, we diversify input materials' sources to reduce risk of disruption.”
Sovigaz, a member of Việt Nam National Chemical Group, also guarantees to supply enough chemical products, including Chloramine B, to meet demand of preventing COVID-19, as well as commit to maintaining the price.
If cases continue to rise, it will be necessary to mobilise all medical resources, especially equipment for prevention and disinfection, as well as oxygen tanks and ventilators.
Therefore, the success of domestic enterprises in producing disinfectant products to replace imported goods and the control of sources of oxygen are playing an important part in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam, head of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, recently warned that Việt Nam should not let its guard down, saying that “we can’t afford to be negligent even when we have fully controlled our domestic medical resources at the moment."
On the stock market, Sovigaz (SVG) and South Basic Chemicals (CSV) are listed on UPCOM and on the Hồ Chí Minh Stock Exchange (HoSE), respectively.
While SVG shares closed yesterday at VNĐ9,200 per share, up nearly 70.4 per cent compared to the beginning of 2021, CSV shares were traded at VNĐ28,000 per share, down slightly 3.78 per cent. — VNS