Vietnam’s Ministry of Health has just approved a Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine while many people have expressed doubts about Sinopharm’s vaccine and suggested that this vaccine should be given to “senior officials” first.
Vietnam’s state-controlled media reported that Deputy Health Minister Truong Quoc Cuong had just signed a decision to conditionally approve a vaccine manufactured by China’s Sinopharm for use in Vietnam “due to the urgent need in disease prevention and control” of COVID-19.”
This is the third vaccine approved by the Ministry of Health, after AstraZeneca of the UK and Sputnik V of Russia.
Vietnam’s Ministry of Health approved China’s vaccine as the Southeast Asian country recorded thousands of new infections and nearly 20 deaths from COVID-19 since the 4th outbreak in the community which is considered the most dangerous, starting from April 27, while just over 1% of Vietnamese people have been vaccinated against this virus, one of the lowest rates in Asia.
However, according to VOA Vietnamese observations, many people expressed doubts about China’s vaccine.
“The reaction of people in the country is that most of the people I know have no plan to get Chinese vaccines,” said Nguyen Nhu Phong, who runs two media companies in Hanoi. The cause of what he called “a distrust” comes from the fact that Vietnamese people perceive that “the Chinese produce fake and counterfeit goods” and “the quality of China’s goods is not guaranteed.”
“Vietnamese people, in general, don’t like Chinese products,” said Nguyen Van Nam, a drug and medical supplies trader in Hanoi, who said he did not import Chinese products because he was concerned about quality. “I myself will not be vaccinated with China’s one.”
Vietnam’s Ministry of Health approved Sinopharm’s Vero Cell vaccine with nine conditions, according to Thanh Nien, in which the Chinese vaccine was approved “based on safety, quality and effectiveness data from the Central Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology provided to the Ministry of Health, as of May 29.”
Citing information from the Ministry of Health, Tuoi Tre said that China’s vaccine has been approved for emergency authorization by 41 countries, and although the rate of immunity is continuing to be monitored,” safety is guaranteed.”
Even so, many social media users say they don’t want the Chinese vaccine. A Facebook user named Nguyen My said: “I would rather die than play Chinese goods.” Another user named Vu Lan Anh said: “Even with 100 conditions, (my family) would (not) inject, even for free.”
The sinopharm vaccine was approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) on May 7. It is known that China has deployed hundreds of millions of doses of Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines, another Chinese vaccine that has also been approved by WHO, for domestic use and export to many countries, especially in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Reuters on May 27 cited the results of a study published in the American medical journal “The Journal of the American Medical Association” showing that, after a second dose at least two weeks, Sinopharm’s vaccine is effective 72.8% towards COVID-19 containment. The British news agency said that this was slightly higher than the 72.5% rate announced by the Chinese company in February this year.
The anti-Chinese sentiment of the Vietnamese people has grown in recent years, as the two countries increasingly dispute territorial sovereignty over the South China Sea along with the influence of China’s dams on the upper Mekong River on the downstream countries, including Vietnam. A survey by the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute for Southeast Asian Studies released this year found that most Vietnamese respondents do not recognize China’s help to the region during the pandemic. In the same survey, Vietnamese, including government officials and academia as well as business, mostly distrust China.
According to Tuoi Tre, currently, Vietnam has not ordered a vaccine from China, but Vietnam has been given this vaccine by China and the donation quantity has not been announced.
“The position of the panel is that safety is first, the data is safe enough, the World Health Organization is based on scientific data, we in the country rely on such a scientific organization,” a member of the Advisory Council on the use of vaccines and biological products of the Ministry of Health, told Tuoi Tre.
Many people, including Mr. Phong, suggested that the Chinese vaccine if imported should be used by “senior officials” of the government and the Ministry of Health first. According to Phong, “government officials should be exemplary in this” if they want to use Chinese vaccines.
Before the strongest outbreak in the community, the Vietnamese government has been promoting negotiations to buy an anti-COVID vaccine as well as seeking to transfer technology to produce vaccines in the country. The Ministry of Health on June 3 said the country will have 120 million doses of vaccines from many sources this year and is gradually approaching the goal of “buying 150 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine in 2021 to immunize 75% of the population.”
Nam said that with this goal, any vaccine, even if it is from China, must be used.