Availability, access and affordability: Vietnam-made vaccine COVID-19 aims to be under USD 22 per dose

Vietnam-made COVID-19 vaccine Nanocovax is expected to be priced at no more than VND 500,000 (USD 21.62) each dose and can be covered by health insurance.

Vietnamese researchers at Vabiotech company working on COVID-19 vaccine. Photo: VNE

Nanogen - one of 3 vaccine manufacturers in Vietnam is considering the price for vaccine COVID-19 just under VND 500.000 (about USD 22) per dose. Named Nanocovax, this is the first COVID-19 vaccine in Vietnam to be tested on the human body, with the volunteer recruitment process starting from December 10, reported VnExpress.

"We have yet to reach agreement with the Ministry of Health on product prices when put on the market. But for sure, it will not exceed USD 22/dose ”, said representative Nanogen.

According to this character, the clinical trial period is expected to last 6 months, if possible, it can be accelerated. Nanogen is expected to introduce the vaccine to the mass vaccination of May 2021.

Nanogen's price is based on a reasonable criterion for all Vietnamese citizens, but the company does not suffer losses. They also expect to put vaccines into the list of drugs of the Ministry of Health to apply for insurance.

With Nanocovax, each person aged 12-75 will get two injections, the second one is 28 days following the first one. Immunization is expected to last for about one year, citizens must get repeated injections.

Nanogen’s COVID-19 vaccine is evaluated as safe. Side effects on mice and monkeys are “negligible”, only cause mild irritation and itching which last for only 30 minutes. Anatomy of vaccinated mice found no internal organ damages.

The health ministry earlier has assessed Nanogen’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate among the most promising, having been successfully produced it on a laboratory scale and provoked immunogenicity during animal testing.

Currently, Nanogen can produce 2 million doses per year, and is expected to upgrade its capacity to reach the ideal production of 50 million doses per year.

Nanocovax is a potential COVID-19 vaccine candidate in Vietnam. Photo: VNE

Nanocovax is the first made-in-Vietnam COVID-19 vaccine to enter human trials. Nanogen partners with the Vietnam Military Medical Academy to start recruiting volunteers participating in the first phase of the human trial starting December 10. The volunteers will be given the first test shots of the vaccine a week later, as reported by VnExpress.

According to experts, those who are selected for participation in the COVID-19 vaccine trials must be healthy volunteers who are suffering from no underlying illnesses and have no medical history. These individuals will be carefully questioned about their health history, along with any allergies to drugs, food, or other things before they get vaccinated, as reported by VOV.

The second phase, which involves 400 volunteers, is expected to start three months after the first phase.

Nanocovax is scheduled to go into mass vaccination in May 2021.

Vietnam has four COVID-19 vaccines produced by Nanogen, Vabiotech, Polyvac and the Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC) currently under research.

Vabiotech, Polyvac are currently evaluating their vaccines on animals, having completed the laboratory-scale production process.

Meanwhile, IVAC will continue to cooperate with Russia and “actively contact with China to have access to China’s vaccine”.

On global scale, currently, more than 150 candidates are at various stages of development, at least 15 of which are in late-stage human clinical trials. Four are effective, according to interim results. 

Pfizer/BioNTech’s vaccine (the US) is the first vaccine to complete the trials with 95 percent effectiveness and granted the emergency use authorization from the UK and Bahrain.

Meanwhile, Moderna’s vaccine is on its final clinical trial phase, with effective rate reaches 94.5 percent. Oxford/ AstraZeneca is 70-90 percent effective, depending on the injection dose. Russia’s Sputnik V (95 percent effective) is scheduled to begin mass vaccination next week.

Moderna’s vaccine is priced at USD 37 per dose, meanwhhile Pfizer’s vaccine and Oxford’s vaccine are more resonably priced at USD 19 and USD 3 per dose, respectively.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has repeatedly underlined the need to make COVID-19 vaccines “a global public good”, affordable and available to all, through the COVAX Facility: a global mechanism which aims to deliver two billion doses by the end of 2021. 

So far, some 189 countries are engaged in COVAX, which is led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), and WHO. 

Hang Le