|A vial of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. — AFP/VNA Photo|
WASHINGTON — The United States sent Việt Nam two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, the White House said, in its latest assistance to countries struggling to tame the pandemic.
The Moderna vaccine shipment – part of a first 80 million doses that President Joe Biden has pledged to allocate worldwide – should arrive in Việt Nam this weekend, a White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
"This is just the beginning of doses being shipped to southeast Asia," the official said.
A million doses went to Malaysia on Monday and last week the White House announced delivery "soon" of four million doses to Indonesia.
Other regional countries in line for a share of the 80 million doses are Cambodia, Laos, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Thailand.
Việt Nam was initially seen as a model for resisting the pandemic. However, vaccination rates are low in the nation of about 97 million people and the last few weeks have seen infections rise sharply.
The Biden administration official said the delivery to Việt Nam, made through the World Health Organization's COVAX programme, is part of a strategy aimed at "ending the pandemic everywhere."
"We are sharing these doses not to secure favors or extract concessions. Our vaccines do not come with strings attached," the official said, repeating the White House's established line.
Announcing the Việt Nam batch, the White House noted that its donations abroad total "significantly more than any other country has sent." — AFP