Vietnam approves Cuban vaccine

Vietnam approves Cuban vaccine

Abdala becomes eighth jab approved in country where only 6% of population is fully inoculated

A woman receives a dose of Cuban-developed Abdala coronavirus vaccine in Caracas, Venezuela in July. (Reuters Photo)
A woman receives a dose of Cuban-developed Abdala coronavirus vaccine in Caracas, Venezuela in July. (Reuters Photo)

HANOI: Vietnam has approved a Cuban vaccine for use against the coronavirus, the government said on Saturday, as the country continues to battle its worst outbreak yet.

Abdala becomes the eighth Covid-19 vaccine approved for use in Vietnam, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the region, with only 6.3% of its 98 million people having received at least two shots

The announcement came hours after President Nguyen Xuan Phuc left Hanoi for an official visit to Havana.

Vietnam has recorded 667,650 coronavirus infections and 16,637 deaths, the vast majority in the Delta-driven outbreak from late April.

"The ministry of health has approved Abdala vaccine, based on the country's urgent need for its Covid-19 fight," the government said in a statement.

The ministry last month said Cuba would supply large quantities of Abdala to Vietnam and transfer the production technology by the end of the year.

Vietnam and Cuba are among the last five Communist-ruled countries in the world, along with China, Laos and North Korea.

In July, Vietnam urged the United States to end its "hostile policy" toward Cuba and lift its longstanding trade embargo after rare anti-government protests on the island.

Abdala is not yet recognised by the World Health Organization, but Cuba said on Wednesday it would seek  WHO approval for two home-grown coronavirus vaccines that it hopes to commercialise widely.

WHO experts are now prepring to begin their examination of the Abdala and Soberana 02 jabs, said Rolando Perez of the state pharmaceuticals maker BioCubaFarma.

Cuban authorities said in July that trials showed Abdala was 92.28% effective against Covid after three doses, on par with the effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna medications. These data represented the first result of a Phase 3 trial that involved 48,000 volunteers.

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