|A fifth-grade student is vaccinated against COVID-19 in Đại Điền Commune, Thạnh Phú District in southern Bến Tre Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Chương Đài|
HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Health has asked the Government to be exempt from publicly disclosing the prices of COVID-19 vaccines, saying it will help ensure the progress of the mass vaccination campaign and achieve herd immunity.
In a document signed by Deputy Minister of Health Trần Văn Thuấn asking for advice from the Government on a number of mechanisms and policies in COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control, the ministry said it has approved the import of eight types of COVID-19 vaccines, namely AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, Comirnaty of Pfizer/BioNTech, Sinopharm, Hayat-Vax, Abdala, Janssen, and Moderna.
The application for vaccine import must include a written request from an agency such as the Ministry of Public Security or the Ministry of National Defence, or written approval of the vaccine from an agency such as the Ministry of Health.
However, the Government’s Decree 54 has not yet provided instructions for the Ministry of Health to issue a document approving the vaccine.
In addition, the COVID-19 vaccines, which have been approved by the World Health Organisation and donated to Việt Nam in urgent situations, do not meet the criteria of drug import licence for humanitarian aid purposes following the Government's regulations.
In fact, in the process of receiving vaccine batches from the donor countries, the number of vaccines was usually very small and the expiry date of the remaining batch of vaccines was very short.
Due to the exemption policy of the producing country during the COVID-19 period and other intergovernmental diplomatic factors, many imported vaccine batches did not have the required documents and additional supplies from the donor countries could not be requested, the ministry said.
For the declaration and re-declaration of vaccine prices according to current regulations for foreign drugs, drug importers must declare the expected wholesale prices before circulating the first batch of drugs in Việt Nam.
The ministry said due to the complicated developments of the global pandemic, the need for vaccines against COVID-19 was urgent, while a domestically produced vaccine was still in the research and development stage.
Thanks to the vaccine policy, the country has been able to access and purchase vaccines at non-profit prices. However, during the negotiation process, the COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers requested the Ministry of Health sign non-disclosure agreements, which required trade secrets, including the pricing of vaccines.
The ministry cannot announce the price considering that this is still part of the non-disclosure agreements. Therefore, in order to ensure the progress of vaccination, the ministry has proposed it be exempt from declaring the prices of vaccines.
Data from the ministry showed that as of August 23, the country has administered more than 255 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including over 14.8 million doses for children aged from 5 to under 12 years old. — VNS