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Vietnam to speed up COVID-19 vaccine research

/ 03:58 PM July 01, 2020

Taking a blood sample of a mouse to test the COVID-19 vaccine being developed by Việt Nam. Photo suckhoedoisong.vn via Viet Nam News/Asia News Network

HANOI — Vietnam will mobilize resources to accelerate the progress of creating a COVID-19 vaccine, the Ministry of Health has said.

The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Vietnam has shown positive testing results on animals, serving as an important foundation to progress and complete the vaccine, according to the ministry.

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Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam held a meeting with the health ministry and scientists on coronavirus testing kits and the COVID-19 vaccine in Hà Nội on Tuesday.

Deputy Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long said a number of countries had tested COVID-19 vaccines on mice and chickens before moving on to apes, and eventually human trials. Vietnamese scientists were working on developing a COVID-19 vaccine and plan to manufacture a large quantity of vaccines.

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The health ministry would continue to promote vaccine research and production. Besides vaccine research following normal standards, the ministry would prepare plans in response to the widespread pandemic, he said.

The ministry would reorganize researching teams and work with businesses on vaccine research, he said.

“Vietnam will stay updated on vaccine production technology by learning from the world’s COVID-19 response experience. Việt Nam’s vaccine development projects not only aim to manufacture a vaccine that the world is expecting but also make Vietnam more flexible in vaccine stocks,” Long said.

Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam said “vaccines are an important factor in disease prevention and control”. Việt Nam should take advantage of all opportunities to research and manufacture a COVID-19 vaccine, he said, emphasizing linking vaccine research with production.

At the meeting, the health ministry said Việt Nam had successfully manufactured SARS-CoV-2 test kits with high accuracy including quick antibody tests and polymerize chain reaction (PCR) testing which detects the presence of antigens.

The ministry would make adjustments to test kit production strategies to ensure quality and testing efficiency to manufacture a large number of kits.

Caution against border reopening

Later in the day, Deputy PM Đam chaired a meeting between the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control and representatives from World Health Organization (WHO) and the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

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The international experts had high praise for Việt Nam’s efforts in containing the coronavirus, as well as Vietnamese scientists and producers for researching and manufacturing anti-pandemic supplies.

WHO representative in Việt Nam Kidong Park said the lockdown measures deployed to slow or cut off the virus outbreaks have put enormous strains on many countries’ economies, prompting them to slowly reopen or consider resuming international flights and opening up their borders.

However, given the current spread of the virus, countries should be cautious before making these decisions, the WHO official said.

Park said international flights could only be resumed when five conditions are met: the outbreaks in both the destination and the departure locations are under control, the health systems can cope with a surge in COVID-19 cases, the disease surveillance system can effectively detect, trace and manage imported cases, there are effective disease monitoring efforts at the border and essential travel is prioritized.

Việt Nam’s borders have remained closed against foreign entries since late March and a few exempted cases will need to undergo 14-day quarantine to prevent risks of community virus spread as the country yesterday marked 75 days without any domestic community infections.

Health experts said Việt Nam should ramp up its testing capacity as well as information campaigns to ensure the public can respond well to new surges in cases.

Deputy PM Vũ Đức Đam said he hoped the WHO and other international organizations could help share Vietnamese COVID-19 testing products with other countries in the global fight against the pandemic.

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