Japan to ship 1 million COVID-19 vaccines to Vietnam on June 16

Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo in this illustration

Japan will send 1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Vietnam, Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said on Tuesday, as Vietnam seeks to accelerate its vaccine procurement drive to tackle a more stubborn wave of infections.

The shipment of AstraZeneca PLC (AZN.L) vaccines produced in Japan are due to arrive in Vietnam on Wednesday, Motegi told reporters.

Vietnam, with a population of around 98 million, has recorded a total of 10,241 coronavirus cases, with only 58 deaths, since the pandemic began.

Japan is considering additional vaccine donations to Vietnam and Taiwan, and it is planning similar shipments to Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand from early July, Motegi added.

Taiwan received 1.24 million AstraZeneca doses from Japan earlier this month to counter a resurgence of COVID-19 cases on the island. The Taiwanese government thanked Japan on Tuesday for mulling additional aid.

“We will continue to maintain close communication with the Japanese side and look forward to the smooth arrival of the vaccines in Taiwan as soon as possible,” Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Japan has pledged $1 billion and 30 million doses to the COVAX facility that provides vaccines to needy countries. But the shipments to Vietnam, Taiwan and other Asian neighbors are being made outside of COVAX to speed up delivery, Motegi said.

“If we go through an international organization, the procedures in getting approval may take time,” he said.

Japan approved AstraZeneca’s vaccine last month and has contracted to buy 120 million doses of it. But there are no immediate plans to use the shots domestically, amid lingering concerns raised internationally over blood clots.

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