The United States will donate an additional 1 million coronavirus vaccines to Vietnam, US Vice-President Kamala Harris said on Wednesday during her trip to Hanoi, as she pledged to aid the Southeast Asian nation in boosting its inoculation rates.
The first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech shots will begin arriving in 24 hours, she said. The latest US donation brought the total to 6 million so far.
Vaccines have been at the forefront of an American diplomatic offensive in Southeast Asia, with the region accounting for about one-fifth of all doses the US has given globally.
She also announced the launch of a new Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Southeast Asia regional office. The new CDC office will be one of four regional offices globally, and it’s focused on collaborating with regional governments on research and training to deal with and prevent global health crises.
Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc said US assistance on vaccinations was “truly valuable and meaningful to Vietnam at a time when we are faced with ample difficulties posed by the Covid-19 pandemic”.
Harris’ announcement came a day after China delivered 200,000 vaccine doses to Vietnam.
Just 1.9 per cent of Vietnam’s population has been fully vaccinated, according to data compiled by Bloomberg, among the lowest vaccination rates anywhere in Asia.
The country is is grappling with record high Covid-19 infections driven by the Delta variant, which has prompted a lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City, the nation’s business hub and the epicentre of the latest outbreak.