A vial of COVID-19 vaccine Vero Cell from Sinopharm. — XINHUA/VNA Photo
HÀ NỘI — One million doses of Sinopharm's COVID-19 vaccine Vero Cell arrived in HCM City on Saturday, as part of a deal to acquire five million doses, the health ministry has announced.
Early in July, the health ministry gave permission for the State-owned Saigon Pharmaceutical Group (Sapharco) in HCM City to import the doses. They were partially paid for using money donated by Vạn Thịnh Phát Holdings Group. This was authorised by HCM City People's Committee, according to local media reports.
Vạn Thịnh Phát is a private company with a diverse portfolio headquartered in HCM City's District 1. Its founder, and chairman of the board, Trương Mỹ Lan, is a Vietnamese of Chinese origin.
With this latest batch of vaccines, HCM City’s total number of doses received has hit three million. This is the biggest share of the country's available stockpile of 16 million doses and enough to cover 22.3 per cent of the city's residents above 18 years old, according to the health ministry.
Vero Cell was approved for emergency use by the WHO in May, and given conditional approval for use in Việt Nam on June 4. The first 500,000 doses donated by the Chinese Government to Việt Nam have been used for Chinese nationals living and working in the country, Vietnamese residents in border areas with China, and people who engage in trade and service exchanges with Vietnam's northern neighbour.
In 2021, HCM City is earmarked to receive 13.8 million doses, which will cover 99 per cent of people over 18 years old.
The city is set to receive a further 5 million doses of vaccine in August.
HCM City, the current epicentre of the fourth wave of infections with daily new COVID-19 cases reaching over 4,000 in the past few weeks, has administered 1.5 million doses of vaccine, with about 75,000 people being fully inoculated.
In the latest guidelines issued for HCM City, the health ministry has asked that all people from 18 years old in the city be vaccinated, with priority given to frontline workers, the elderly or people with underlying health conditions.
Private sector medical units will also be enlisted to speed up the vaccination progress.
A special vaccination-support working group from the health ministry has also been sent to HCM City. — VNS