Coronavirus: Vietnam signs up for Russian vaccine amid new outbreak

The new two-vector Covid-19 vaccine at Nikolai Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow on Aug 6, 2020.
The new two-vector Covid-19 vaccine at Nikolai Gamaleya National Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology in Moscow on Aug 6, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

HANOI • Vietnam has registered to buy a Russian Covid-19 vaccine, state television reported yesterday, as it fights a new outbreak after going several months with no local cases.

"In the meantime, Vietnam will still continue developing the country's own Covid-19 vaccine," state broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV) said, citing the Ministry of Health.

Russia said on Wednesday that it would roll out the world's first Covid-19 vaccine within two weeks, rejecting the concerns of experts who said that it should not have been approved before completing large-scale trials.

Vietnam has signed up for 50 million to 150 million doses of the vaccine, the Tuoi Tre newspaper reported. Some of it will be a "donation" from Russia, Tuoi Tre said, with Vietnam paying for the rest. The Health Ministry did not say when it expected to receive the vaccine, or how much it would cost.

Vietnam was lauded for suppressing an earlier outbreak through aggressive testing, contact tracing and quarantine, but it is now racing to control infections in multiple locations linked to the popular tourist city of Danang, where a new outbreak was detected on July 25.

The country has reported a total of 911 infections, with 21 deaths. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said the risk of wider contagion is very high, and that the next few days are critical.

Meanwhile, the European Commission said yesterday it had reached a deal with British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca for the purchase of at least 300 million doses of its potential Covid-19 vaccine.

The European Union's executive arm, which is negotiating on behalf of the 27 EU states, said the deal included an option to purchase 100 million additional doses should the vaccine prove safe and effective. The agreement marks the EU's first advance purchase deal for a potential vaccine against the new coronavirus.

"Today, after weeks of negotiations, we have the first EU advance purchase agreement for a vaccine candidate," EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said in a statement. On Thursday, the EU said it had reserved up to 400 million doses of a vaccine being developed by US giant Johnson & Johnson.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 15, 2020, with the headline 'Vietnam signs up for Russian vaccine amid new outbreak'. Subscribe