Vietnam says seeking to produce COVID-19 vaccines to supply COVAX

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Health workers wait for their turn as Vietnam starts its official rollout of AstraZeneca's coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine for health workers, at Hai Duong Hospital for Tropical Diseases, Hai Duong province, Vietnam, March 8, 2021. REUTERS/Thanh Hue

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HANOI, June 1 (Reuters) - Vietnam is seeking to buy COVID-19 vaccine production technology and wants to build a plant to supply the COVAX programme, its health ministry said on Tuesday, as the country tries to step up vaccinations to stem a new outbreak of infections.

India and South Africa are among developing countries that have been pushing for an intellectual property waiver for COVID-19 vaccines. But even with a surprise U.S. shift last month to support a waiver World Trade Organization talks on the issue on Monday failed to achieve a breakthrough. read more

"Vietnam would build the plant and would like to receive the patent so it could supply vaccines to COVAX, to other countries as well as to Vietnam," the ministry said in a statement, following a meeting with COVAX representatives overnight.

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Vietnam on Monday also pushed for private procurement of vaccines, as it races to secure supplies and tackle an outbreak that has seen its cases more than double in the past month.

The country of about 98 million people has so far received 2.9 million doses, including 2.6 million doses via COVAX, but is lagging many neighbours in its vaccination drive.

"Vietnam hopes the COVAX facility will speed up its provision of vaccines to Vietnam," Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said in the statement.

"Vietnam also hopes international organisations and other countries help it access COVID-19 vaccines," Long said.

The Southeast Asian country has managed to contain the virus better than many countries though an outbreak that started last month has proved harder to stamp out,

The Ministry of Health reported 111 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday morning, raising the total number of cases to 7,432, with 47 deaths.

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Reporting by Khanh Vu Editing by Ed Davies

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