HANOI: Vietnam's health ministry has registered to buy a Russian COVID-19 vaccine, state television reported on Friday (Aug 14), as the Southeast Asian country fights a new outbreak of the coronavirus following months of no local cases.
Russia said on Wednesday the first batch of the world's first COVID-19 vaccine would be rolled out within two weeks, rejecting as "groundless" the safety concerns aired by some experts over Moscow's rapid approval of the drug.
"In the meantime, Vietnam will still continue developing the country's own COVID-19 vaccine," state broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV) said, citing the Ministry of Health.
Vietnam has signed up for 50 to 150 million doses of the vaccine, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported. Some will be a "donation" from Russia, Tuoi Tre said, with Vietnam paying for the rest.
The ministry did not say when it expected to receive the vaccine, or how much it would cost. Last month, the ministry said Vietnam would have a home-grown vaccine available by the end of 2021.
Vietnam was lauded for suppressing an earlier contagion through aggressive testing, contact-tracing and quarantining, but it is now racing to control infections in multiple locations linked to the popular holiday city of Danang, where a new outbreak was detected on Jul 25.
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Vietnam's health ministry on Friday reported 24 new COVID-19 cases and one death, bringing the total tally to 929 cases with 21 fatalities.
Of the new cases, 17 patients are linked to the central city of Danang.
More than 175,000 people are being quarantined in the country, including 5,000 at hospitals, around 25,000 at centralised quarantine centres and the rest at home, it added.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has warned that the risk of wider spread of the virus is "very high", and said that the next several days would be "critical" in fighting the outbreak.
The head of Vietnam's coronavirus taskforce, Vu Duc Dam, said on Friday that Vietnam now had no choice but to "live safely with the virus".
"We are implementing the anti-virus measures of a poor country, so everyone has to stay alert and know how to protect themselves from the virus," Dam said, according to state media.