HA NOI (VNS)— The World
Health Organisation (WHO) suspended the use of a hepatitis B vaccine that
recently resulted in the death of three new-born babies in Viet Nam.
WHO has suspended the use
of the Euvax B vaccine across the world, after the three deaths, which occurred
between April 23 and May 7. The vaccine was also thought to be responsible for
another new-born baby becoming seriously ill after vaccination in Viet Nam,
according to Nguyen Tran Hien, head of a government group investigating the
The group includes
representatives from the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology (NIHE),
the Expanded Programme for Immunisation, the National Hospital of Paediatrics,
WHO and the United Nations' Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Speaking at the group's
first meeting on Friday, Hien said the Euvax B hepatitis B vaccine, produced by
Korea's LG company, was used in 24 countries across the world, including Viet
However, the vaccine was
imported into Viet Nam without any verification, according to director of the
National Institute for Vaccine and Medical Bio-product Verification, Le Van
Under Health Ministry
regulations, imported vaccines must be on a list of products recommended for use
by WHO. In addition, the vaccine must be used in the country of production and
in three other developing countries.
Phung said Euvax was
classed as an aid product and recommended by WHO, therefore imports to Viet Nam
were not verified at all.
It was only sincethe first
death related to the Priorix vaccine in HCM City in May 2006, that all kinds of
vaccines, including Euvax, have been more strictly controlled.
Of the two batches of the
vaccine related to the three recent deaths, one was not verified when it was
imported into Viet Nam, said Phung.
Director of the Vaccine
and Medical Bio-product Company, Nguyen Thu Van, said her company could
completely satisfy the local demand for hepatitis B vaccines. However, the
vaccine takes between three to four months to produce.
"We will produce the
hepatitis B vaccine when we receive a proposal from the Ministry of
Health," said Van.
"It will take about
five or six months to produce between five to six million doses of hepatitis B
vaccine to cater to domestic demand." — VNS