Vietnam to buy AstraZeneca vaccine

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Vietnam has agreed to buy 30 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by AstraZeneca, with the government also seeking to purchase vaccines from other sources, including Pfizer Inc.

Vietnam had previously agreed to get a Russian vaccine while saying it would not rush to secure vaccine deals, citing the potential for high financial costs.

The southeast Asian country has managed to contain its coronavirus outbreaks to only 1,494 cases, with 35 deaths.

The AstraZeneca and Oxford University COVID-19 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.

"We've already signed an agreement to guarantee the AstraZeneca vaccine for 15 million people, which is equivalent to 30 million doses," deputy health minister Truong Quoc Cuong told a government meeting.

Vietnam is also in talks to purchase vaccines from Pfizer Inc, Russia's Sputnik V and China, the deputy minister said.

Cuong said Vietnam would be eligible to buy vaccines from the World Health Organisation's COVAX program to cover 16 per cent, or 15.6 million of its almost 98 million population, but said more information would be available in the first quarter.

Vietnam, which has yet to give formal regulatory approval to any vaccine, is also developing vaccines domestically.

The country has conducted human trials of its 'Nano Covax' vaccine and a second home-grown vaccine is expected to start undergoing human trials this month.