Elderly and people with chronic health issues in District 11, HCM City, are given the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. — VNA/VNS Photo Hồng Giang
HCM CITY — The Ministry of Health has asked HCM City's authorities to confirm whether they would buy 5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines before August 15.
The health ministry said that on May 28, it had a meeting with Zuellig Pharma, which was authorised by Moderna as the distributor of the vaccines in the Southeast Asian region, and the company said it could supply about five million doses to Việt Nam.
Late May, the health ministry agreed with the request from HCM City to buy the batch of Moderna vaccines using the city's budget, and pledged to facilitate the licences, import, and quality controls of the vaccine.
The ministry said it had sent three documents – on June 30, July 12, and July 22 – telling HCM City People’s Committee to direct relevant authorities to complete purchase procedures, and inform the ministry of any difficulties, given that to date, the vaccine makers have only dealt with central/federal governments or supranational entities.
However, as of August 8, the health ministry had not received any update on the issue, and now it wants the southern city to confirm whether it wants to purchase the vaccine.
In case the city is no longer interested, the Prime Minister would decide to award the deal to another locality or party, so as to not waste the opportunity to buy the much coveted and also expensive mRNA COVID-19 vaccines.
HCM City is struggling to contain local outbreaks that have made it the epicentre of the ongoing fourth wave of infections in Việt Nam, while vaccine supplies are currently not enough. The city with 9 million people has been allocated five million doses of vaccine to date, one fourth of the national available stockpile, and is quickly running out with 200,000-300,000 doses administered a day.
Việt Nam approved Moderna vaccines for emergency use in late June and the five million doses of Moderna donated by the US Government via COVAX are being rolled out. — VNS