The first batch of Moderna vaccines donated by the US arrived in Việt Nam earlier this month. — Photo courtesy of UNICEF Việt Nam
WASHINGTON — The US is considering further vaccine and other COVID-19 support to Việt Nam, according to the Vietnamese ambassador in the US Hà Kim Ngọc.
The US has just sent additional three million doses of the Moderna vaccination to Việt Nam over the weekend as a donation via the global vaccine sharing scheme COVAX, bringing the total to 5 million from the US.
Việt Nam has finalised deals with AstraZeneca and Pfizer as well as securing commitment from COVAX (along with ongoing negotiations with various other vaccine makers) but the majority of the shipment would concentrate in the fourth quarter of the year amid critical global shortage, while the country is battling the serious fourth wave that has resulted in more than 90,000 cases.
“The vaccine donation is a meaningful and timely support for Việt Nam,” Ngọc said, as demand for US vaccines is very high at the moment while the US Government is also carrying out donation programmes to 50 countries and regions in the world.
The US so far only provides aid in a bilateral framework with a few countries in Central America, due to complex regulations and coordination, according to the ambassador.
The support the US gives to each country and region is mostly delivered through COVAX mechanism, after US authorities like the State Department or the National Security Council determines the quota of donation for each partner.
The US considers vaccines part of their national security, therefore it is strictly managed from production to distribution inside the country as well as matters of donation or supply to other countries.
The Vietnamese embassy has mobilised many sources of supply, including sources from different states and localities, charities, associations, brokerage companies, and individuals in the US but so far, none have brought results, as these entities cannot enter deals with foreign partners, even if they have surplus stock.
“All supply deals must go through the US State Department,” Ngọc stressed.
Vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, or other developers of vaccines in phase 2 or 3 clinical trials, only sign deals with central government-level entities or COVAX mechanism, and not with private company or any middleman at the moment.
“If entities in Việt Nam are contacting sources in the US for vaccine supplies please be aware of this [policy], so as not to waste time and resources,” the Vietnamese diplomat stressed.
For medical supplies or medicines, the Vietnamese ambassador is working with US business community and the Vietnamese community in the US to support its efforts to access to multiple suppliers.
“The US is urgently discussing with Vietnamese partners to complete procedures to soon ship CUE COVID-19 rapid test kits and 75 vaccine cold storage devices to Việt Nam,” the ambassador said. — VNS