Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has instructed the Ministry of Health to buy Covid-19 vaccines in the first quarter amid the resurgence of the pandemic.
The new Covid-19 wave began on Thursday after a gap of 55 days, and has spread to at least five localities, including Hanoi, with 180 people confirmed infected as of Saturday morning.
The health ministry Saturday said it has approved Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca PLC for domestic inoculation.
Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said the vaccine has been approved under emergent circumstances to help fight Covid-19. AstraZeneca has pledged to provide Vietnam with around 30 million doses this year, with the first coming in the first quarter.
The ministry has stepped up negotiations with Pfizer, Moderna and other vaccine manufacturers in India, China and Russia so that the first doses could be given to people in the first quarter, he said.
The port city of Hai Phong, where a case has been detected, said it would separately seek to secure two million vaccine dozes for its populace.
Vietnam has also been speeding up domestic production of vaccines.
Trials for Nanocovax, the first to be tested on humans, began on December 17. The vaccine has been deemed safe, but its efficacy in preventing Covid-19 has yet to be assessed.
Covivac, produced by the ministry’s Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals, has been approved to be tested on humans and the trials are scheduled after the Lunar New Year in mid-February.
Two other vaccines are under development by the Vaccine and Biological Production Company No. 1 and the Center for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals.
The latest outbreak comes just a couple of weeks before Vietnam’s biggest and most important festival, an occasion for family reunions that will see millions travel home.
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam, head of the National Steering Committee on Covid-19 Fight and Prevention, said at a meeting on Thursday the government has set a target of “zoning and stamping out the new Covid-19 outbreaks in the next eight days.”