Vietnam says approves Russia's Sputnik V vaccine for use

FILE PHOTO: A vial labelled "Sputnik V Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine" and a syringe are seen in this illustration photo taken March 12, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

MOSCOW/HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam has approved Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine for use against COVID-19, its health ministry said, the second coronavirus shot to be approved in the Southeast Asian country after the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“The approval of Sputnik V vaccine was based on data about its safety, quality and efficiency,” the health ministry said in a statement on Tuesday on its website.

The ministry did not say when it expected doses of the vaccine to arrive.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which promotes the vaccine, said in a statement on the Sputnik V website that it had now been approved for use in 56 countries with a combined population of over 1.5 billion people.

“Its approval in Vietnam, one of the most populated countries in Southeast Asia, will provide for protecting the people and getting closer to lifting the restrictions imposed because of coronavirus,” RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev said.

Vietnam, with a population of 98 million, has been relying on the AstraZeneca vaccine so far and since launching vaccinations on March 8 more than 36,000 people have been inoculated.

The country is also in talks to buy vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson and is aiming to put its first domestically developed COVID-19 vaccine in use in 2022.

The government has previously said it would acquire 150 million vaccine doses in total, both through direct purchases from producers and the COVAX vaccine-sharing scheme.

The Southeast Asian country has been praised for its record in containing the virus through mass testing and tracing and strict quarantining, only recording 2,575 infections and 35 deaths.

Reporting by Maxim Rodionov and Anton Zverev in MOSCOW and Khanh Vu in HANOI; Editing by Jason Neely and Ed Davies