Nguyen Quang Dy
The story of Viet A is a hot topic. If you go to google and type the word “Viet A,” you will find a lot of information that makes you eyestrain and headaches. Public opinion condemns Viet A for greedily taking advantage of people’s pain and lives – “eating everything from the people.” But Viet A is just “the tip of the iceberg.” If you can cut this trunk, the octopus will grow another, more terrible trunk. It is a monster of “cronyism” raised by interest groups. In other words, it is chronic cancer that has spread to many places, especially medical.
Follow the flow of events
In October 2019, Nguyen Minh Hung (former Chairman, cum General Director of VN Pharma) was sentenced to 17 years in prison by the court for trading fake drugs to treat disease (cancer), worth about VND151 billion ($6.6 million), causing damage of VND50.6 billion for patients. The police have concluded that behind VN Pharma’s mistakes, it is the responsibility of the leaders of the Ministry of Health. Deputy Minister of Health Truong Quoc Cuong was arrested and detained for investigation of “lack of responsibility causing serious consequences.”
In April 2020, Associate Professor, Doctor of Medicine Nguyen Nhat Cam (former Director of Hanoi CDC) and Nguyen Ngoc Nhat (officer of Vitech Science Development Company), were arrested for investigation of violating regulations on bidding for automatic real-time PCR system, “causing serious consequences.” Mr. Cam and Nhat joined hands to raise the price of the PCR system to VND7 billion to sell to the Hanoi CDC and then spent 15% of the “commission” for Mr. Nguyen Nhat Cam.
Also in April 2020, Assoc. Prof-Dr. Nguyen Quoc Anh (former director of Bach Mai Hospital) and Pham Duc Tuan (director of BMS Medical Technology Company) were prosecuted for shaking hands with each other to install a robot system Rosa at Bach Mai Hospital. Mr. Tuan admitted that the total value of the Rosa robot system, including the cost of transportation, installation until the operation, only took VND7.4 billion, but they legalized the Rosa robot valuation procedure up to VND39 billion.
On February 17, 2020, Minister of Science and Technology Chu Ngoc Anh signed for approval the project of Researching and manufacturing the first Real-Time PT-PCR & RT PCR biological kit “made in Vietnam” to detect SARS-CoV virus by “Military Medical Academy chaired, coordinated with Viet A company.” The Ministry of Science and Technology has accepted the project “quickly” (March 3, 2020) and requested the Ministry of Health for a license. The very next day (March 4, 2020), the Ministry of Health “rapidly” granted a circulation permit for this test kit. It is a “fast-paced” scientific research process, probably only in Vietnam.
The press on the right side cited the Ministry of Science and Technology as announcing that the Viet A test kit “has been approved by WHO” (registration number EUL 0524-210-00) and “the British Ministry of Health has issued a certificate of European quality standards.” This information was posted on the website of the Ministry of Science and Technology (April 26, 2020), and has just been removed (December 20, 2021). Viet A is not only sponsored by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science and Technology, but also by Vingroup. When establishing VinBioCare (June 3, 2021), Vingroup contributed 69%, Viet A 30%, and Ms. Thu Huong 1%. VinBioCare is licensed by Arcturus Therapeutics of the US to produce American vaccines. But Phan Quoc Viet withdrew from VinBioCare, like a “cicada escaping the body.”
According to the press, from February to November 2021, CDC Hai Duong officially signed and paid for Viet A 5 contracts to provide medical supplies and equipment, with a total of VND151 billion. In this case, CDC Director Hai Duong Pham Duy Tuyen received VND30 billion (20%) from Viet A. Viet A has the exclusive right to supply test kits to 62/63 provinces and cities. CDC Hai Duong is a typical example (case study). Many CDCs in other provinces/cities will be difficult to escape if the investigation is expanded as directed by the Prime Minister. Director of CDC Nghe An Nguyen Van Dinh was summoned for receiving “kickback” from Viet A. But they are only “the tip of the iceberg.”
Responsibilities of the two ministries
According to information from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science and Technology, Viet A’s test kit “is four times more efficient, but the price is only one-quarter of that of similar foreign test kits.” In March 2021, Viet A was awarded the 3rd class Labor Medal for “excellent achievements in researching, manufacturing, and applying Real-time RT-PCR biological products to detect SARS-CoV-2 virus.” From an unknown person, the CEO of Viet A turned into a “giant” before becoming a criminal. Are the leaders of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Military Medical Academy innocent in this case?
With the “speedy” license of the Ministry of Health, Viet A’s test kits were sold to 62 provinces/cities. The Ministry of Health also announced the price of Viet A’s test kit is VND470,000, as a basis for reference localities to buy from Viet A. In April 2020, the Ministry of Science and Technology also officially announced on its website that the Viet A test kit “has been approved by WHO” (while WHO has never approved). This is an “inadvertent” caused by the Ministry of Science and Technology’s confusion, or intentionally swapping the concept, turning the “WHO-issued code” into “approved by WHO.”
According to the Ministry of Health, “All licensed products are assessed as satisfactory, meeting Vietnam’s standards and quality and ensuring compliance with current regulations” (always “in accordance with the government’s regulations!” ). While the Ministry of Health cited the Law on Price: “medical equipment and test biological products are not on the list of items subject to price management,” Viet A has raised the price of test kits to sell to hospitals and medical institutions- epidemic prevention agencies across the country, earning at least VND4 trillion and spending about VND800 billion to “give back” for relevant partners.
The official press, as well as social networking sites, have strongly reacted to the explanation of the Ministry of Health. Public opinion thinks that this series is “covering up,” “falling off,” and “disguising.” In the past few days, many people have been searching for information from the beginning of last year when the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Health “quickly” licensed and promoted Viet A’s Covid-19 test kit, making businesses Viet A’s revenue increased sixfold in 2020. But anyway, Viet A is just “the tip of the iceberg” and Phan Quoc Viet is just a sacred sheep.
According to Phap Luat newspaper (December 21, 2021), Viet A is appointed as a contractor in 62 provinces/cities across the country (almost exclusively), while the real capacity of this company is an unknown question mark. So where is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science and Technology in this great cause? Viet A pays a “commission” of VND30 billion (20%) to CDC Director Hai Duong, while other CDC directors (such as Nghe An) are still awaiting investigation. But what force is behind him; ping Viet A to take a “monopoly” position in selling kits, despite the lives and properties of the people?
Many people believe that the Ministry of Health cannot be “innocent” when it has a key role in issuing many official documents to force testing “fast” and “on a large scale.” It was the Ministry of Health who introduced to the provinces/cities and related medical units the price was inflated to VND470,000/test kit so that they had to buy from Viet A. Public opinion in Vietnam believes that Phan Quoc Viet and Viet A company cannot easily cheat and sell kits at high prices without the help or even “protection” of at least the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Science and Technology.
In the context of the “global health crisis” caused by the Corona pandemic, Viet A is a kind of “backyard” set up by interest groups for profit, like “the tip of the iceberg.” Slow institutional reform will create conditions for interest groups to manipulate policies and manipulate institutions. They are greedy and insensitive, raise the price of medical equipment and supplies for testing, and make poor businesses and people pay higher prices to have their noses picked. For the sake of the group, they defy the suffering and lives of millions of people.
In the early stages of “fighting the epidemic like fighting the enemy,” Vietnam emerged as a successful star in epidemic control, gaining people’s trust, consensus, and admiration from the world. But in the period after the pandemic broke out with a new variant Delta that was difficult to control, Vietnam was helpless and revealed many weaknesses. From the top, now Vietnam has dropped to the bottom, in which there is a significant role of Viet A. The test kit for profit has contributed to distrust of the people and made it difficult to control the epidemic. Policy corruption is a crime at its worst, and medical interests are just as dangerous as the Delta variant.