Vietnam recently said it had registered to buy millions of COVID-19 vaccine from Russia after that country’s surprising announcement that it had approved one.
The Russian announcement came less than two months after the start of human testing of the vaccine. The vaccine only completed its Phase 2 trials. A Phase 3 trial involving tens of thousands of people is normally required before a vaccine can be approved.
After Russia said it had approved a vaccine, the United States, an important partner of Vietnam, expressed disbelief that Russia could have developed a vaccine so quickly. And the World Health Organization (WHO) urged the country to make sure it followed international guidelines in its effort.
The WHO says more than 150 programs are currently researching possible vaccines around the world, including those in China, Australia, Britain and the United States.
Russia’s international relations have suffered elsewhere, from interference in the U.S. presidential election, to its seizure of Ukrainian territory which led to European Union sanctions. But Vietnam’s long history with Russia might help explain their vaccine deal.
Vietnam is one of the last remaining communist nations, which had strong ties to the old Soviet Union. Vietnam’s founder Ho Chi Minh was a student of the ideas of Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin. Ho and other influential young people from the former French colony of Indochina, now Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, spent formative years in Russia.
Looking at other vaccines
Vietnam was doing its own vaccine research before the Russia announcement. However, the first workable vaccine is likely to come from a nation with many resources. This has led developing nations like Vietnam, Indonesia and India to look for help elsewhere.
The state-run newspaper Tuoi Tre reported that Vietnam could buy 50 million to 150 million doses of the Russian vaccine by 2021. And Vietnam’s health ministry said it has also registered to buy possible vaccines being developed by Britain and the U.S.
“A vaccine that has been used in a foreign country may not require any more tests when it's imported to Vietnam,” said Dr. Tran Dac Phu, a top advisor to the Vietnam Ministry of Health’s Public Health Emergency Operations Center. He spoke on the national VTV station. However, he added, "its trials must still be applied on humans to test its safety and effectiveness.”
Vietnam has dealt with COVID-19 more aggressively than some of its neighbors. The country intensified the battle against the disease in July when it reported its first COVID death.
Still people need to keep taking safety measures and not put all their hopes on a vaccine, said Vu Duc Dam, the Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam who has been leading the pandemic efforts.
“Because we controlled the disease well for a long time, people have become more negligent,” he said this month. “It’s time to remind ourselves that the pandemic is still going on and the vaccine will only be available to everyone in at least one year. We must strengthen measures to safely live together with the disease.”
I’m Caty Weaver.
VOA News reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted it for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
Words in This Story
sanction – n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country, etc. — usually plural
dose – n. the amount of a medicine, drug, or vitamin that is taken at one time
apply – v. to use (an idea, method, law, etc.) in a particular situation
pandemic – n. an occurrence in which a disease spreads very quickly and affects a large number of people over a wide area or throughout the world
negligent – adj. failing to take proper or normal care of something or someone
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