Japan supports Vietnam to build Covid-19 vaccine cold storages

Japan will provide 4.5 billion yen ($41 million) grant aid through an international organization to Vietnam and 24 other countries in Asia and the Pacific Islands region to build a cold-chain distribution network for COVID-19 vaccines, the Japanese Foreign Ministry said Tuesday.
March 10, 2021 | 16:21
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The grant aid will be used to secure cold-storage facilities, transport vehicles, and other equipment necessary for the stable delivery of vaccines in those countries, including Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, according to the ministry.

A super-cold storage for Covid-19 vaccines at a hospital in the U.S. Photo: Catalent

Japan aims to help ensure the delivery of vaccines "to each and every person in all corners of developing countries" with the hope of containing the coronavirus pandemic as quickly as possible, it said, adding the aid will be delivered through the United Nations Children's Fund, Kyodo News reported.

The other recipient countries are Bhutan, Brunei, Cambodia, the Cook Islands, East Timor, Fiji, Laos, Malaysia, Maldives, Micronesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Niue, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Sri Lanka, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

Japan has also pledged $200 million to the COVAX facility, an international vaccine distribution platform set up to ensure equitable access to shots for developing countries.

The COVAX initiative aims to deliver 2 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines across the world by the end of 2021.

Ultra-cold storage units operated by Vietnam Vaccine JSC (VNVC). Photo by VNVC.

Vietnam Vaccine JSC (VNVC), the importer of Covid-19 vaccines to Vietnam, was licensed in January to operate three super cold facilities to store Covid-19 vaccines at temperatures ranging from minus 86 to minus 46 degrees Celcius, according to Vnexpress.

Each freezer has a defrosting room with temperatures kept at minus 8 degrees Celsius to ensure vaccines are safely thawed prior to usage.

Tran Thi Trung Trinh, quality control director at VNVC, said in mid-2020 it had imported equipment and built an ultra-cold chain storage system to prepare for Covid-19 vaccine imports to Vietnam.

Using cold gas and cascade refrigeration, involving two or more vapor-compression cycles with different refrigerants, VNVC's super-cold storage system is equipped with a GSM alarm system, a wireless security product, and remote device control.

All cold and ultra-cold storage facilities are equipped with high-tech on-site and remote temperature monitoring systems.

A medical staff prepares to inject the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for frontline workers at the National Hospital for Tropical Diseases. Photo: VnExpress.

Vietnam launched the biggest vaccination campaign in history on March 8. Around 100 million Covid-19 vaccine doses would be provided to Vietnamese this year. The first batch of 117.600 AstraZeneca vaccine has been administered for frontline workers in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Gia Lai, and Hai Duong.

Five of the 522 medical workers and others who got the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine have developed minor complications and are being treated in hospital.

Two suffered from anaphylaxis and three others developed diarrhea, allergies, and low pulse pressure, according to the national Expanded Program on Immunization.

They are being treated and in stable condition.

Initial reports said most of the vaccinated people displayed expected symptoms like muscle pain, fatigue, fever, headache, chill, pain at the injection spot, and nausea.

Vietnam has ordered 30 million doses, and 117,600 arrived late last month.

It is also negotiating with the U.S.’s Pfizer and Moderna and other vaccine manufacturers in Russia and China.

In the latest outbreak of community transmission that broke out on January 28, there have been 894 cases so far, including one diagnosed on Tuesday evening in Hai Duong, its 710th.

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Malie Nguyen
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