Vietnam has received a shipment of half a million Sinopharm vaccine doses donated by China, the health ministry said on Sunday, as the country is increasing inoculations to battle a persistent outbreak.
Vietnam approved China’s Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use against Covid-19 in early June, Reuters is reporting.
The vaccines will be used for three groups: Chinese citizens in Vietnam, Vietnamese who have plan to work or study in China and people who live near the borders with China, the health ministry said in a statement.
Vietnam’s domestic inoculation programme, which started in March, has so far relied heavily on around four million shots of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
Nearly 2.4 million people in Vietnam have had one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, while just over 100,000 have been fully vaccinated, according to official data.
The country of 98 million also received a batch of nearly one million AstraZeneca doses of vaccine donated by the Japanese government on June 16.
Vietnam is tackling a stubborn wave of infections. The country’s business hub, Ho Chi Minh City, on Sunday banned public gatherings of more than three people and imposed lockdown orders on some virus-prone areas.
Vietnam’s latest outbreak, which includes the highly transmissible Delta coronavirus variant, has accounted for about 75% of its overall cases during the pandemic, with just under 10,000 infections and 31 fatalities since late April.
Vietnam had been calling on the World Health Organization (WHO) to speed up the Covax vaccine drive as the country’s new daily infections hit record highs.
The country successfully contained outbreaks for most of last year, but the new outbreak prompted calls for the government to accelerate its vaccination programme.
Vu Duc Dam, head of the country’s Covid-19 task force, urged WHO to accelerate the transfer of vaccine manufacturing technology so Vietnam can become one of the vaccine production hubs in the region.
WHO said last month it was reviewing a proposal by an unidentified vaccine manufacturer in Vietnam to become an mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccine technology hub.