A health worker holds up a box of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine Vero Cell Inactivated at a vaccination site in HCM City. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — Bình Dương and Đồng Nai, the two southern provinces neighbouring HCM City and themselves COVID-19 hotspots, are set to roll out 1.5 million doses of Sinopharm Vero Cell vaccine from the southern city.
The doses are part of 5 million shots purchased by Saigon Pharmaceutical under the sponsors of HCM City-based private group Vạn Thịnh Phát.
Nguyễn Văn Lợi, secretary of Bình Dương Province’s Party Committee and head of the provincial COVID-19 response committee, said 1 million doses of Sinopharm vaccine would be delivered this week.
The province, home to major industrial zones, will prioritise ‘red areas’ with high rates of COVID-19 infections, especially in boarding houses accommodating workers.
With a population of about 2.6 million people, the southern province has recorded over 110,258 cases, which could reach 150,000 in two weeks – mostly in the ongoing fourth wave -- making it the second-biggest epicentre of COVID-19 after HCM City, but it has been allocated only a little above 1 million doses so far.
It needs about 3.5 million shots to achieve herd immunity.
Last week during a meeting with Bình Dương’s government, Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính asked the province to control the outbreaks before September 15, and said the health ministry would prioritise the limited vaccine supply it received for the province, especially for high-risks cities like Thuận An, Dĩ An, Thủ Dầu Một, and Tân Uyên township.
Đồng Nai Province on August 29 received 500,000 doses of vaccines from HCM City and is planning to administer them all this week.
Nguyễn Hồng Lĩnh, chairman of Đồng Nai People’s Committee, on Monday said the vaccines would be prioritised for industrial zones, businesses who are carrying out three on-site model, and red-zone residential areas so that people can get “protective shield against the disease.”
The best vaccine is the earliest one, he reiterated, asking the health department to inform people of the qualities of the types of vaccines used.
Previously, Đồng Nai has used 3,000 doses of Sinopharm vaccines for Chinese experts and nationals working and living in the province.
714,246 people in the province have been inoculated (31.7 per cent of the population above 18 years old), with 55,450 having received both vaccine shots.
Đồng Nai has logged over 23,000 cases of COVID-19, making it the third biggest outbreak in the country.
Việt Nam relies mostly on Western vaccines, but the delivery has been inconsistent and limited. While there is some hesitancy among the public against Chinese vaccines, health authorities have repeatedly communicated that Sinopharm’s COVID-19 vaccines have been approved by the WHO and Vietnamese health ministry, and are being used in many countries.
As of today, Việt Nam is set to have a total of 8 million doses of Sinopharm vaccines for its vaccination drive – 5 million doses donated by private group Vạn Thịnh Phát to HCM City originally scheduled to be delivered within this month, 500,000 doses as aid from Chinese Government in June, 200,000 doses from China People’s Liberation Army and 2 million more also as further donation from the Chinese Government arriving soon.
HCM City itself, the epicentre of the fourth wave, has used 900,000 doses of the Vero Cell vaccine, including some allocated from the Chinese Government which will primarily go to Chinese nationals in Việt Nam, people in northern border regions with China, and people who intend to go to China for work and study.
The city's leaders have said COVID-19 vaccination is voluntary ahead of the rollout of the 1 million doses of Sinopharm vaccines in early August.
The northeastern province Quảng Ninh was the first to use the vaccine, having to date injected 88,100 doses.
More than half of the 20 million shots of vaccines administered in Việt Nam to date were AstraZeneca. — VNS