Vietnam’s health ministry approved the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for domestic inoculation, the first vaccine against Covid-19 to be approved in the country, the government said on Saturday as it battles its biggest outbreak yet.
The AstraZeneca-Oxford coronavirus vaccine is cheaper than some others and can be stored at fridge temperature, which makes it easier to transport and use, particularly in developing countries.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had said Vietnam must try to obtain the Covid-19 vaccine in the first quarter to ensure people’s health, reports news agency Reuters.
The country has kept its coronavirus caseload to a low of 1,739 infections and 35 fatalities.
Earlier on Friday, Vietnam’s health minister Nguyen Thanh Long said that a new virus outbreak was “basically under control” in the areas most affected, as cases spread to Hanoi, the capital.
“In a very short period of time, we’ve controlled the situation and I see a ray of hope,” Long said.
Vietnam has been one of the world’s virus-mitigation success stories. Its total number of cases since the killer virus was initially detected in Vietnam a year ago stands at 1,739, including imported cases, with 35 deaths.
In a government meeting held earlier, Prime Minister Phuc asked the health ministry to act fast on plans to buy and self-develop coronavirus vaccines.
Vietnam deputy health minister Truong Quoc Cuong had said that the country would be eligible to buy Covid-19 vaccines from the World Health Organization’s COVAX programme to cover 16%, or 15.6 million of its almost 98 million population, but said more information would be available in the first quarter.
With agency inputs