Asian Insider

Work being done in Vietnam on 2 Covid-19 vaccines amid tech transfer deals

Nanocovax, developed by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology in collaboration with Vietnam Military Medical University, is one of the two candidates. PHOTO: NANOGENPHARMA

BANGKOK - Vietnam initially had four Covid-19 vaccine candidates as it tried to capitalise on its head start from successfully containing earlier waves of the outbreak.

At this point, two candidates are in the clear lead: Nanocovax, developed by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology in collaboration with Vietnam Military Medical University, and Covivac, developed by the health ministry's Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals.

Human trials have started on these vaccine candidates alongside preparatory work undertaken by Vietnam to manufacture vaccines from Russia, the United States and Japan under technology transfer deals.

The state-owned Company for Vaccine and Biological Production No. 1, or Vabiotech, is involved in two of these deals.

It will produce the Sputnik V vaccine by Gamaleya National Research Centre of Epidemiology and Microbiology as well as a recombinant DNA protein vaccine by Japanese pharmaceutical company Shionogi.

Meanwhile, Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup will produce an mRNA vaccine being developed by Arcturus Therapeutics.

These technology transfer deals will see much of the vaccine coming on-stream next year, putting into doubt Hanoi's ambition to secure 170 million doses by the end of this year.

The deals also raised questions about the state's commitment to developing its home-grown vaccines, which are undergoing second- and third-stage trials.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh put some of the doubts at rest last Saturday (Aug 14) when he gave the approval for over 8.8 billion dong (S$535,000) from the national Covid-19 vaccine fund to be used to support the clinical trials of Covivac.

The fund, which was launched in June to raise money for the country's vaccination drive, has amassed 8.6 trillion dong in donations.

Major donors include foreign investors like South Korea's Samsung and Thailand's Charoen Pokphand Group.

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