Vietnam expects more vaccine donations from US

HANOI (CNA) – The United States (US) is considering giving more coronavirus vaccines to Vietnam, its ambassador to the US said yesterday, as the Southeast Asian country struggles to control outbreaks of the fast-spreading Delta variant of the virus.

After successfully containing the virus for much of the pandemic, Vietnam has been facing rapid outbreaks of infections, with daily cases repeatedly hitting new highs.

Vietnam took delivery of a shipment of three million Moderna doses from the US yesterday, taking the amount given by the US, via the global COVAX vaccine scheme, to five million doses.

“The US side has said it is also considering more vaccine donations to Vietnam soon,” the ambassador to the US Ha Kim Ngoc said in a speech posted on a government website.

Vietnam is also in talks with the US on domestic production of mRNA vaccines, its foreign ministry said on Thursday, adding that production could begin in the fourth quarter or early in 2022.

A street is cordoned off to control the traffic in Hanoi, Vietnam. PHOTO: AP

The ministry did not identify the US and Vietnamese companies involved in the talks.

State media reported on Saturday Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup was in talks with San Diego-headquartered Arcturus Therapeutics Holding on mRNA vaccine production.

Clinical trials could begin in Vietnam in August, the Tuoi Tre newspaper reported, adding that the firms could produce 100 million to 200 million doses a year under such a deal.

Vingroup and Arcturus did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Vietnam kept the virus at bay for the first year of the pandemic but infections have been spreading quickly since late April.

The Health Ministry reported 7,968 infections on Saturday, a record daily increase.

In all, it has recorded nearly 95,000 infections and at least 370 deaths, most in the southern commercial hub of Ho Chi Minh City.

Nearly half of the latest shipment of Moderna vaccines will be sent to that city, the US Embassy in Hanoi said on Saturday.