Vietnam opts for containment over ‘high risk’ rush for costly COVID-19 vaccine

HANOI (CNA) – Vietnam will stick to its strategy of containing COVID-19 rather than rush to secure a supply of a vaccine that could be financially risky, the head of the country’s coronavirus task force said yesterday.

Through months of aggressive mass testing, military-run centralised quarantine and early border closures, Vietnam kept its coronavirus tally to just 1,210 cases and gone over two months without community transmission.

Thirty-five people died from COVID-19 in Vietnam, according to official data, with the country widely praised for its decisive response to quelling outbreaks.

“The vaccine is a story for the future,” Task Force Chief and Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam told a government meeting yesterday.

“Demand is far higher than supply, and we have to pay large deposits to secure our position, which I see as very high risk and a waste of money and time.

“We will continue to deal with COVID as we are now,” he said.

In August, as Vietnam fought a new outbreak of the virus after over three months without local transmission, Hanoi said it registered to buy 50 million to 150 million doses of a Russian vaccine. Vietnam will also buy from Britain, where it has a partnership to develop a homegrown vaccine with the University of Bristol.

“We have to be prepared for the fact that the pandemic will not end until 2021,” said Dam. “Our homegrown vaccine will enter human trials this month but won’t be available until end-2021.”