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Vietnam strives to have homegrown vaccines next month



Vietnamese Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính has asked for more efforts, determination and effective coordination among ministries, agencies and individuals to be able to have the first made-in-Việt Nam COVID-19 vaccines ready next month.

He spoke at a meeting held with scientists, units and businesses involving in COVID-19 vaccine research and production yesterday to seek solutions and promote vaccine production.

The Government has put special attention on promoting the production of vaccines as soon and as much as possible to vaccinate people amid the global shortage and complicated development of the pandemic.

The Prime Minister has had five meetings to discuss the research, technology transfer and production of homemade vaccines during a short period of time and visited vaccine research and production facilities in Hà Nội and HCM City, which demonstrated the Government’s special attention to this task.

In order to have COVID-19 vaccines, it was necessary to comprehensively implement the import of vaccines, transfer of vaccine production technology and research and production of homegrown vaccines, he said. Of which, the research, technology transfer and production of homemade vaccines played an important role.

He asked participants to make clear difficulties in vaccine research and production in order to work together to find solutions.

All sides needed to coordinate closely and proactively implement assigned tasks with full responsibilities, he said.

At the meeting, the Ministry of Health and related agencies reported the situation and progress of vaccine production technology transfer, research, clinical trials and production of homegrown COVID-19 vaccines, including the research, production and clinical trials of the Nano Covax vaccine which is produced by Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC based on recombinant DNA/protein technology; the Covivac vaccine which has been researched and produced by the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals under the Ministry of Health; and ARCT-154 vaccine which was purchased with technology transferred to VinBioCare Biotechnology JSC, a unit of Việt Nam’s leading multisectoral conglomerate Vingroup, from Arcturus Therapeutics Holding Incorporation, USA.

Lieutenant-General Đỗ Quyết, Director of the Military Medical University, which joined the research and clinical trials of the Nano Covax vaccine, said the determination of the Government and the Prime Minister encouraged scientists and research and production agencies and affirmed they would strictly abide by professional and scientific regulations and processes and ensure objectiveness and honesty in vaccine research and judgement of human trials of vaccines.

Chairman of the Advisory Council for the Registration of Circulation of Drugs and Medicinal Ingredients Lê Văn Truyền said the council will implement assessments as soon as possible to submit to the Ministry of Health for granting circulation certificates for the vaccines in line with regulations after the ministry’s Ethical Evaluation Committee in Biomedical Research evaluated the vaccines following the results of trials.

Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam said it was essential to speed up the research and production of homegrown vaccines to soon get a licence for emergency use as more vaccines are needed to inoculate as many people as possible at this time.

After October, more vaccines will arrive in Việt Nam in a large quantity with 60 million doses of vaccines scheduled for the fourth quarter. Projects receiving vaccine production technology transfer from foreign partners have started to be implemented. Homegrown vaccines will soon complete human trials.

PM Chính urged scientists, management staff and producers to speed up the progress and simplify administrative procedures but ensure tightened professional and scientific factors in the spirit of speed, safety and efficacy as this task is related to the health and lives of people.

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Self-Employed Traders petition SC over govt. favouring liquor dealers



By A.J.A Abeynayake

The Supreme Court has decided take up, on 04 Oct. for hearing a petition filed by the Association of Self-Employed Traders against the opening of liquor stores during the current lockdown.

 The traders have requested the apex court to order the government to allow members of their union to engage in business activities since the liquor stores had been allowed to reopen during the lockdown.

The petition was taken up before a three-judge bench comprising justices L. T. B. Dehideniya, Shiran Gooneratne and Janak de Silva, yesterday.

 The State Counsel appearing for the respondents said he had received the relevant documents pertaining to the case only last Friday evening. Therefore, the State Counsel requested the court to give him time to seek advice from the respondents who were many.

Attorney-at-Law Eraj de Silva, appearing for the petitioner at the time, said about 7,000 members of his client union had lost their livelihoods due to the decision by the respondents.

Therefore, Attorney-at-Law Eraj de Silva requested the court to give an early date for considering the petition.

Accordingly, the Supreme Court decided to take up the petition for consideration on 04 Oct and directed the lawyers of the petitioners to take steps to send notice to the respondents before that date.

The petition was filed by the President of the United National Self-Employed Trade Association G.I. Charles, its Vice President P.G.B. Nissanka, and Secretary Krishan Marambage.

The petition names 47 respondents, including the Director General of Health Services, the Inspector General of Police and the Director General of Excise.

The petitioners allege that under the quarantine law, the Director General of Health Services, who is the competent authority, issued a notice on Aug 20 prohibiting the opening of liquor stores.

The petitioners point out that steps were taken to open liquor stores countrywide contrary to the regulations of the Health Authority.

The Director General of Health Services, the Commissioner General of Excise and the Inspector General of Police have stated that they have not allowed the reopening of liquor stores.

The petitioners have also requested the Supreme Court to issue an order to the respondents to allow the members of their association to engage in business activities as the liquor stores are allowed to remain open.

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Lankan born newly elected Norwegian MP Gunaratnam calls for investments here



Newly elected Norwegian Labour Party MP, Lankan born Kamzy Gunaratnam says she will ask the new Norwegian government to continue engagement with the country of her birth.

 Speaking at a virtual media conference on Sunday night, Gunaratnam said that she does not believe that boycotting Sri Lanka is the way forward.

“I don’t believe in boycott. There needs to be investments. Only that will ensure employment,” she said.

Gunaratnam said that she is also prepared to meet President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, if invited, for talks.

She said that Norway must continue to assist Sri Lanka through trade, education and in other ways.

Gunaratnam said that she will also discuss with her party and the new Norwegian Foreign Minister, as well as the Norwegian Ambassador in Sri Lanka and see how best Norway can assist the country.

Gunaratnam said that Sri Lankans must also decide the best solution for Sri Lanka and not any foreign country. She said that Sri Lanka must not wait for foreign pressure to work on a solution.

The newly elected Norwegian MP also said that minority rights in Sri Lanka must be protected.

As a Norwegian MP she said that her main focus in the Norwegian Parliament will be to push for equality in Norway.

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Going to IMF best solution, says Ranil



UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe insists that a programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is necessary to mitigate impact of the growing debt repayment crisis; homegrown solutions are not effective.

“Unlike in the past, Sri Lanka’s debt problem has increased at a time when there is a global debt problem. This makes the situation more challenging and complex. Sri Lanka is a highly import-dependent economy,” Wickremesinghe said during a panel discussion, organised by the International Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka on Saturday.

The UNP leader said that the government shouldn’t sell state assets to ease off the shortage of foreign exchange to have breakfast but reinvest those proceeds back in the economy. “Going to the IMF is the best solution,” Wickremesinghe said.

With reference to homegrown solutions, he referred to the mess caused by the government in promoting Dhammika peniya as one of the failed measures earlier on to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The former Prime Minister said that Sri Lanka should use the current situation to forge ahead with structural and public sector reforms which were postponed due to political considerations in the past.

The former PM suggested that the re-opening of the country be delayed till mid-October.

In responding to the issue of debt management in Sri Lanka, the UNP leader said that the most pressing concern is addressing the dwindling foreign exchange reserves of the country.

He explained that the regional foreign exchange reserves were projected to increase over the course of the year, however, Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange reserves were on a downward trend.

He also said that economic recovery based on a resurgence of the tourism industry would be uncertain, and until airline ticket prices were reduced it was unlikely that tourist arrivals would increase significantly.

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