From second left: Kidong Park, Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Việt Nam; Lesley Miller, Deputy Representative of UNICEF in Việt Nam; Nicolas Warnery, French ambassador to Việt Nam; Paolo Epifani, Charge d’Affaires Italian Embassy in Việt Nam; Vietnamese deputy health minister Trần Văn Thuấn; and Vietnamese deputy foreign minister Tô Anh Dũng participate in the symbolic handover ceremony of vaccine donation held in Hà Nội on Tuesday. — VNA/VNS Photo Lâm Khánh
HÀ NỘI — The foreign ministry held a ceremony in Hà Nội to symbolically receive 1.5 million doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines donated to Việt Nam from the governments of Italy and France via COVAX.
The vaccine batches – 670,080 doses from France and 812,060 doses from Italy – arrived at Nội Bài International Airport in Hà Nội late Monday night.
Speaking at the ceremony, Vietnamese deputy foreign minister Tô Anh Dũng expressed gratitude towards the two European countries for their contributions to Việt Nam’s COVID-19 fight, saying that this donation represents the dynamic growth of the strategic partnership between Việt Nam and France and Italy in recent years, as well as showcases the spirit of unity and solidarity in challenging times.
The Vietnamese diplomat reiterated appreciation for the COVAX initiative with its goal to ensure equitable and fair access to vaccine supply, and noted that France and Italy are among the biggest European donors to the scheme.
Dũng said he believed French and Italian governments and people’s help to Việt Nam – as well as to ASEAN in general – will help speed up the reopening process, facilitate travel for businesses and people.
Vietnamese deputy health minister Trần Văn Thuấn said the ministry would timely allocate the vaccine doses to localities and use them effectively.
On behalf of the Italian Government, Paolo Epifani, Charge d’Affaires at the Italian Embassy in Việt Nam, said he highly valued Việt Nam’s efforts in pandemic containment, and is happy to contribute to Việt Nam’s vaccination drive.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, Italy has been among the first countries to support the importance of equal and universal access to vaccines, treatments and tests for COVID-19, based on a principle of international solidarity according to which no one will be safe until everyone is safe," he said.
"With this donation, France is demonstrating its solidarity with Việt Nam through these difficult times: we stand together with the people of Việt Nam, as the country is facing a severe epidemic wave, by supporting vaccination efforts launched by the authorities," said French Ambassador to Việt Nam, Nicolas Warnery.
"This support is in line with the longstanding and successful cooperation between France and Việt Nam in the medical field," he noted.
Ambassador Nicolas Warnery added that "vaccination is the only way out of this crisis. That is why France is committed to share 60 million doses in 2021, in addition to its financial contributions to the COVAX programme, in order to accelerate vaccination efforts worldwide. More broadly, France has been a major supporter to the ACT-A initiative which provides universal access to tests and treatments to fight COVID 19”.
On behalf of COVAX, Kidong Park, Representative of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Việt Nam, are grateful for donations, which brought the total vaccines that COVAX supplied to Việt Nam to 11.7 million doses.
"As we get more vaccines for the country, it is critical for the Government to provide vaccines strategically to the people who need it the most, based on priorities. This means protecting health care workers and frontline workers, the elderly, people with co-morbidities and those who are at highest risk of severe diseases or deaths,” the WHO official stressed.
“UNICEF welcome the donations of COVID-19 vaccines by the Governments of France and Italy through the COVAX dose-sharing mechanism, which allows well-supplied countries to share vaccine doses with other countries to help protect the most at-risk populations globally”, said Lesley Miller, Deputy Representative of UNICEF in Việt Nam.
“Equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines represents the clearest pathway out of this pandemic for all of us — children included, and these donations are an important step in this direction”
To date, more than 30 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Việt Nam, with nearly 5.5 million people having been fully inoculated.
Earlier, last weekend, the Polish government’s medical equipment donation worth US$4 million arrived at Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport in HCM City on a military aircraft, following a donation of 501,600 AstraZeneca vaccine doses in late August. — VNS