VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES JUNE 13

Ministry grants conditional approval of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

VIETNAM NEWS HEADLINES JUNE 13

The Health Ministry on June 12 granted conditional approval of Comirnaty vaccine manufactured by Pfizer Manufacturing Belgium NV and Germany’s BioNTech Manufacturing GmbH for domestic emergency use in the fight against COVID-19.

This is the fourth vaccine to receive such authorisation, following Oxford/AstraZeneca, Sputnik V, and Sinopharm’s Vero Cell.

According to the approval decision, the vaccine comes in doses of 0.3ml of mRNA molecules protected by lipid nanoparticles.

The packaging is described as trays of 195 vials, with each vial holding six doses of vaccine.

The ministry asked the Drug Administration of Vietnam to license the import of Comirnaty vaccine as well as oversee its quality in line with the regulations.

The Administration of Science Technology and Training was directed to choose qualified units to assess the safety and efficiency of Comirnaty vaccine based on feedback from the ministry’s advisory board on the use of vaccines and medical biologicals during the use.

The General Department of Preventive Medicine was responsible for Cormirnaty vaccination while the National Institute for Vaccines and Biologicals must test and grant a certificate for the vaccine before it is put into use.

Previously, the health ministry said it had negotiated for a deal of 31 million doses of Pfizer and the first shipment could likely arrive between now and July.

Last week, during a meeting with UNICEF Representative in Vietnam Rana Flowers, Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long has also expressed his request for COVAX Facility – the global vaccine sharing initiative – to supply Pfizer vaccine to be used for Vietnamese children aged 12-18.

As of 4pm on June 12, 1,454,221 doses of vaccines – mostly AstraZeneca – have been administered in Vietnam since the inoculation drive started in March 8, 2021. 54,385 people have received the full two doses./.

Award-winning writer and translator passes away

Award-winning writer Nguyễn Xuân Khánh passed away due to natural causes at his home on Saturday in Hà Nội. He was 88 years old. 

Khánh was popular for a series of novels on Vietnamese culture and history including Hồ Quý Ly; Mẫu Thượng Ngàn (Mountain Goddess) and Đội Gạo Lên Chùa (Bring Rice to the Pagoda).

His work on the founder of the Hồ dynasty Hồ Quý Ly (1336-1407), published in 2000, and Mẫu Thượng Ngàn published in 2006 have been reprinted many times due to their historical and cultural insights.

Đội Gạo Lên Chùa was published in 2011 by the Women’s Publishing House and created a stir in the local literary scene. The novel was highly acclaimed by not only literary critics but also the wider reading public.

The novel, which sold out its initial print run and was reprinted two more times over three months, also won acclaim for explaining the origins of Buddhism in Việt Nam.

His works earned him the Việt Nam Writers' Association Award in 2000 and in 2011 and the Hà Nội Writers Association in 2011.

Born in Hà Nội, Khánh studied medicine at Hà Nội Medical University. He joined the military in 1952. He began to write in 1957. He worked at the Văn Nghệ Quân Đội (Military Literature and Arts) magazine and Tiền Phong (Avant-garde) newspaper before retirement in 1983. 

He wrote his latest novel Chuyện Ngõ Nghèo (Poor Alley's Tale) in 2016. 

He also translated many works including Nathalie Sarraute's The Golden Fruits and Jules Verne's Five Weeks in a Balloon. 

National COVID-19 vaccine fund raises over 4.8 trillion VND

The national COVID-19 vaccine fund received more than 4.84 trillion VND (210.2 million USD) worth of donations from 283,169 organisations and individuals as of 5pm on June 12, according to the fund's management board.

Minister of Finance Ho Duc Phoc said that his ministry commits to transparently publicising the fund’s daily and periodical amounts of donations obtained as well as the spending of the Ministry of Health after each round of the domestic vaccination against COVID-19.

The ministry, which is in charge of the vaccine fund, has established a management board for it at the State Treasury and opened a bank account to receive support from individuals and organisations inside and outside the country.

Vietnam needs 150 million doses of vaccines to administer about 75 percent of its population this year, with total cost amounting to 25.2 trillion VND./.

Phu Quoc fish sauce making becomes national intangible cultural heritage

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recognised the making of fish sauce on Phu Quoc island city in the Mekong Delta province of Kien Giang as a national intangible cultural heritage in late May, creating a driving force for local residents to maintain and uphold the essence of the traditional craft.

Chairwoman of the Phu Quoc Fish Sauce Association Ho Kim Lien said Phu Quoc’s waters are home to a variety of seaweed and plankton that are major feed sources for anchovies - a key ingredient in its fish sauce.

The craft has existed in Phu Quoc for over 200 years ago. Local residents catch fresh anchovies and salt them before fermenting them in giant wooden barrels.

Fermenting them in wooden barrels is a feature of the traditional craft. The older the barrel is, the more durable it becomes and the better the quality of the fish sauce is.

The barrel has a wide mouth and is made from 55 planks of equal size: 2.2 metres long, 20cm wide, and 6cm thick. The diameter of the barrel mouth is about 3.2 metres and that of the bottom is some 2.6 metres. It is also strapped with green rattan.

Lien said the fish sauce is produced based on traditional methods, with the recipe being three parts anchovy and one salt, and the fermentation period lasts from 10 to 15 months. From the first to final layers, the fish sauce is divided into different types based on their protein levels. The final product has an amber colour and a slight aroma.

With support from the French Embassy in Hanoi in 1998, the Ministry of Fisheries along with Kien Giang province prepared an application for geographical indication. On June 1, 2001, Phu Quoc fish sauce was the first product in Vietnam to secure such status.

In July 2013, the EU granted the “Phu Quoc” origin certificate to the Vietnamese fish sauce.

A month later, the Ministry of Industry and Trade handed over the certificate to representatives of the Phu Quoc island district People’s Committee and the Phu Quoc Fish Sauce Association and it has now become an attractive local tourism product.

Phu Quoc city is now home to around 100 fish sauce makers, mostly in Duong Dong and An Thoi wards. Between now and 2025, it will strive to produce 12 million litres of fish sauce each year on average.

According to Lien, a major difficulty for the industry is that some consumers cannot identify genuine Phu Quoc traditional fish sauce, leading to unstable prices. There is currently no planning for a Phu Quoc fish sauce craft village, so it has not yet become a tourist destination.

The Phu Quoc Fish Sauce Association, founded in October 2000 and with 53 members, will pay attention to developing fish sauce quality to continue promoting its trademark, she said.

The craft is also expected to seek UNESCO world intangible cultural heritage status, contributing to improving its brand value and promoting the image of Phu Quoc island city./.

NA Chairman urges stepping up vaccine strategy

National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue has asked for stepping up the vaccine strategy with a specific roadmap and measures to achieve herd immunity, thus laying an important foundation to catch up with the global economy.

Chairing a working session with permanent members of the NA Committee on Social Affairs and several NA organs in Hanoi on June 13, Hue urged the Government to review the efficiency of support packages for laid-off workers and those hit by COVID-19 pandemic to report to the NA in the next meeting.

He reiterated the Politburo’s stance on continuing to realise the dual goals of fighting the pandemic and ensuring macro-economic stability and the safety of finance-banking and public debts.

The leader suggested continuing with the 5K technology message, considering vaccination a strategy; and enhancing international cooperation in seeking vaccine supplies.

In order to effectively perform socio-economic development policies and provide support for those hit by the pandemic, Hue asked the Government to soon issue a growth scenario, accelerate the disbursement of public investment, continue improving business environment, developing private and digital economy, and stimulating domestic demand  while boosting collaboration to effectively direct fiscal-monetary policy, and soon bring the Resolution adopted by the 13th National Party Congress into life.

Lawmakers reported that the NA and its Standing Committee issued nine resolutions and documents to ease difficulties amid the pandemic.

As a result, payment of 99.2 trillion VND (4.3 billion USD) worth of added value tax, corporate and individual income tax, land lease for 57,000 business households and 128,600 firms has been extended, along with 19.3 trillion VND in special consumption tax for automobiles last year./.

Vietnam Young Initiatives forum held virtually

The Vietnam Young Initiatives forum was held virtually on June 12, with Vietnamese students across Europe taking part.

The event also marked the beginning of the Innocity 2021 competition for Vietnamese youths at home and abroad, which was a joint effort between the Vietnamese students’ associations in Europe and the Global Network of Young Vietnamese Intellectuals under the auspices of the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations, the Vietnam Software and IT Services Association, and the Association of the Vietnamese in Europe.

The competition aimed to seek solutions to developing smart cities and urban areas in Vietnam.

Discussions at the event focused on the role of young Vietnamese on innovation and ecological system in Vietnam, and support for Vietnamese at home and abroad in the country’s innovation.

Nguyen Thi Dieu Linh, member of the Vietnam Youth Federation and President of the Vietnamese Students’ Association in the Czech Republic, expressed her hope that new factors will be discovered at the event to contribute to the homeland./.

Nearly 160 wild animals saved in May

The Education for Nature Vietnam (ENV) said as many as 157 wild animals were saved thanks to notice from residents via its hotline in May.

The ENV also reported that there were 299 crime cases related to wildlife were dealt with during the month, adding that it also recorded the 20,000th case since its wildlife protection office and hotline 1800-1522 was launched in 2005.

After receiving notice from the ENV, the Binh Duong provincial forest ranger department received 44 rare and precious turtles, which have already been sent to the Dau Tieng wildlife conservation station in the locality.

EVN Deputy Director Nguyen Thi Phuong Dung expressed her hope that the organisation will continue serving as a bridge to contribute to preventing wildlife trade in the country./.

VGCL delegation presents gifts to pandemic-hit workers in Thanh Hoa

A delegation led by Vice President of the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL) Ngo Duy Hieu visited and presented gifts to workers hit by COVID-19 pandemic at Sakurai Vietnam Co. Ltd in the Le Mon Industrial Park in the central province of Thanh Hoa on June 12.

President of the Thanh Hoa provincial Labour Federation Vo Manh Son said the province has yet to discover any official or worker infected with the coronavirus. Several F1 and F2 cases who finished quarantine have returned to work.

Trade unions distributed 36,300 leaflets to its members and workers to raise their awareness of prevention and control measures as recommended by the Health Ministry. They also directed the establishment of over 2,300 safety teams to fight the pandemic in businesses, particularly in industrial parks.

Son suggested the VGCL soon add workers and trade union employees into the list of those being given priority to vaccination.

Hieu, for his part, asked the provincial trade unions at all levels to continue staying vigilant in the fight against the pandemic.

Firms were also required to adjust distance and work shifts in factories to mitigate possible transmissions.

On the occasion, the delegation presented 100 million VND (4,300 USD) to support trade union members and workers hit by the pandemic./.

Vietnamese-Cambodians obey notice on relocating floating houses

Close to 1,000 households of Cambodians of Vietnamese-origin have followed the Phnom Penh authorities’ June 2 notice on relocating floating houses and fish farming rafts along the Tonle Sap river in seven days.

Accordingly, the group – mostly eking out a living from fishing and cage fish farming – in Chbar Ampov and Prek Pnov districts, among other locations, on June 11 and 12, dismantled their raft houses while waiting for a place to resettle.

Earlier, Vietnamese Ambassador to Cambodia Vu Quang Minh directly visited and encouraged the people of Vietnamese origin in displaced areas across six districts in Phnom Penh. He also met with leaders of neighbouring Kandal province, saying the embassy is seeking a plan to support the group.

Regarding the matter, the Foreign Ministry's State Committee for Overseas Vietnamese Affairs, meanwhile, discussed with the Cambodian side, proposing Cambodia create favourable conditions and take practical support measures for the group to resettle and ensure their legitimate interests./.

Lao provinces join hands with Vietnam to fight COVID-19

Many Lao provinces have joined hands with the Vietnamese Government and people in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

On June 12, representatives from Phongsaly province's authorities arrived at the Vietnamese Consulate General in Luang Prabang to present about 15,900 USD in support of Vietnam’s northern provinces of Lai Chau, Son La, Phu Tho, Vinh Phuc, Tuyen Giang and Thai Nguyen.

Earlier on June 11, representatives from Luang Namtha provincial authorities granted nearly 31,900 USD to the Consulate General to assist the northern provinces of Dien Bien, Son La, Phu Tho and Vinh Phuc.

Speaking at the event, the Lao side affirmed great friendship with Vietnam and wished that the Vietnamese localities would soon curb the virus spread and overcome difficulties to restore production and trade for socio-economic development.

Vietnamese Consul General in Luang Prabang Nguyen Dang Hung hailed the deed as a vivid manifestation of the great friendship, special solidarity and comprehensive partnership between the two countries.

He also vowed to soon send the sum to his homeland to help with pandemic prevention and control./.

Vietnam seeks COVID-19 vaccine technology transfer

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, the Health Ministry has directed units to study and clinically test made-in-Vietnam vaccines while seeking technology transfer from abroad to proactively fight the pandemic in the country.

The ministry’s Administration of Science Technology and Training (ASTT) said on June 12 that two domestic manufacturers are working on COVID-19 vaccines. In particular, Nanocovax by the Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC has been approved for the third stage of clinical trials, which will be carried out by the Military Medical University and the Ho Chi Minh City Pasteur Institute right there and in Hung Yen, Long An and Tien Giang provinces and several qualified units.

About 13,000 people will be chosen for the phase.

Another candidate is COVIVAC by the Nha Trang Institute of Vaccines and Medical Biologicals (IVAC) which is under the first stage of clinical testing. The second stage is scheduled to take place in Thai Binh province.

The IVAC plans to produce about 6 million doses each year while Nanogen expects to manufacture around 20-30 million doses annually.

According to the ASTT, the Health Minister on May 7 issued Decision No.2301/QD-BYT on the establishment of a steering committee for a research programme on COVID-19 vaccine technology transfer and production.

Vingroup negotiated with a US manufacturer to transfer the technology of producing vaccine from mRNA which requires only one shot of 5mg. Its plant will be capable of producing 100-200 million doses each year, starting from the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter of next year.

At present, the Company for Vaccine and Biological Production No.1 is stepping up negotiations with a Japanese partner to transfer technology to Vietnam.

It also signed a deal with a Russian investment fund for the sale of 5 million doses of Sputnik-V vaccine each month, towards transferring technology with an annual capacity of 100 million doses./.

President Ho Chi Minh’s thought, morality, lifestyle - precious assets: Party chief

President Ho Chi Minh’s thought, morality, and lifestyle are precious spiritual assets of the Vietnamese Party and people, illuminating the revolutionary cause, leading to the victory of the Vietnamese revolution.

Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong made the remarks at the national teleconference reviewing the five-year implementation of the 12-tenure Politburo's Directive 05-CT-TW on enhancing the studying and following of President Ho Chi Minh's thought, morality and lifestyle on June 12.

Learning and following the late leader’s thought, morality and lifestyle is a necessary, regular and indispensable task for the entire Party and people, particularly Party organisations, State agencies and officials and Party members.

On behalf of the Party Central Committee, the Party chief welcomed and praised collectives and individuals that stand out in performing this task.

The nation’s revolutionary cause is still facing many difficulties and challenges, he noted, given rapid, complex and unpredictable developments of the national and global situations.

He stressed the importance of continue learning and following the President’s ideology, morality and style, and highlighted the need for officials and Party members to set themselves as good examples for others.

The leader showed his hope that this task will continue to be enhanced in a more substantive and effective manner so as to contribute to the implementation of the 13th National Party Congress’s Resolution as well as the nation building, safeguarding and renewal cause.

The national teleconference also saw the presence of Politburo members: State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue, and permanent member of the Party Central Committee’s Scretariat Vo Van Thuong./.

Ca Mau tourism works to adapt to “new normal” situation

The tourism sector of the southernmost province of Ca Mau is taking measures to adapt to the “new normal” situation amid complicated development of the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the fact that it had remained free of COVID-19 so far.

Tourist destinations pay great attention to following the “5K message” of khau trang (facemasks), khu khuan (disinfectant), khoang cach (distancing), khong tu tap (no gatherings), and khai bao y te (health declarations).

Deputy Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism Tieu Minh Tien said the province has issued a set of criteria to assess safety in COVID-19 prevention and control in the tourism sector, including specific regulations in each category and destination.

The local tourism sector is ready with measures to record new development progress in the near future, he said.

Vice Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee Tran Hong Quan said the province has set tourism as one of its economic pillars and identified measures for sustainable development.

The Prime Minister has approved the master plan for Ca Mau Cape national tourism site and the province already has planning for tourist areas such as Khai Long and Hon Da Bac and ecological tourism sites in Tran Van Thoi and U Minh districts.

It has upgraded infrastructure, diversified products at destinations, and actively sought investment in various fields, including tourism.

According to Tien, Ca Mau will step up tourism marketing at home and abroad to promote its land, culture, and people.

It is due to link up with cities and provinces to form tourism product chains in the Mekong Delta and on an inter-regional scale./.

Contributing to strengthening people's trust in Party, State, regime

The Secretariat of the Party Central Committee on June 12 held a nationwide online conference reviewing the five-year implementation of the 12-tenure Politburo's Directive 05-CT-TW on enhancing the studying and following of Ho Chi Minh's thought, morality and style.

General Secretary of the Party Central Committee Nguyen Phu Trong attended and chaired the conference, which was also to carry out the 13th-tenure Politburo's Conclusion 01-KL/TW on continuing the implementation of Directive 05.

The report delivered at the conference stated that this work over the past five years has been seriously and effectively implemented throughout the political system, creating a positive change in awareness and action.

During the implementation process, ministries, departments, sectors and localities have identified breakthroughs to focus on leading, directing and organising effective implementation, thereby promoting socio-economic development, strengthening the people's confidence in the Party and State; contributing to preventing the deterioration in political ideology, morality, lifestyle as well as "self-evolution" and "self-transformation" manifestations; and actively protecting the ideological foundation of the Party, and refuting wrongful and hostile views.

Over the past five years, educating political theory and the contents of Ho Chi Minh's thought, morality and style for officials, Party members, members of the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and students has been seriously carried out, contributing to improving political level and mettle of officials, Party members and people, especially the young generation.

In addition to the obtainments, the report pointed out shortcomings and limitations that need to be overcome during implementing Directive 05 such as creativity, efficiency, drastic measures, and forms in leadership, direction, organisation of implementation in some areas. The deterioration in political ideology, morality and lifestyle still exists among some officials and Party members, leading to violations of the Party's regulations with some being disciplined and penalised./.

Joint efforts for a healthy Vietnam

The establishment of the national COVID-19 vaccine fund is a vivid illustration of the nation’s solidarity, enabling each citizen to make a contribution to the formidable fight against the pandemic. All of the funding is being used to win the fight and ensure no one is left behind.

After a long hospital stay for treatment of ameloblastoma (a benign tumour), actor Tran Hoang Long, who goes by the stage name Long Chun and is “TikToker”, thoroughly understands the hardships that doctors and medical staff have endured. He has called for support for Covid-19 hotspot Bac Giang province over the past days, while making a small contribution to the vaccination fund and spreading the message behind the fund.

Meanwhile, for scientists like Dr Dang Minh Tuan, support for the fund is not just about material contributions. He said he wanted to spread the fund’s message in an effective fashion, with many number “9s” in his donation.

At the epicentre of the latest COVID-19 outbreak and facing formidable challenges, many local people in Bac Giang province are taking up the COVID-19 fight and stand ready to make a contribution to the fund.

The vaccination fund is a vivid illustration of national solidarity in the fight against the pandemic. Information about the fund and its significance should be distributed to call on the national strength. 

During tough times, Vietnamese people have shown their resilience and solidarity. Everyone believes that no one will be left behind in this fight, and each citizen will receive COVID-19 vaccine shots./.

Firms violating COVID-19 prevention rules must be suspended: Deputy PM

Businesses that have failed to meet COVID-19 prevention and control requirements must be suspended, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam said at a meeting in Hanoi on June 11.

Dam, who is also head of the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control, asked enterprises to arrange work shifts to make it easier for quarantine in case of infections.

Once COVID-19 cases are found at industrial parks, testing results must be produced within a day to accelerate contact tracing and quarantine, the official requested.

He asked localities to use different testing methods for different groups of people, and implement the quarantine and lock-down work flexibly and creatively.

According to the Deputy PM, all of the workers who are at the high risk of infection would be vaccinated against the coronavirus in July, while the inoculation for employees at industrial parks nationwide is expected to be completed in August.

At the meeting, leaders of localities with industrial parks like Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Long An, Tay Ninh and Ba Ria-Vung Tau said they have drawn up scenarios for COVID-19 infections in the industrial parks.

Nguyen Huong Giang, Chairwoman of the People’s Committee of northern Bac Ninh province, which has been hit hard by the pandemic, said relevant forces should quickly take actions in contact tracing and sealing off pandemic clusters, while focusing on testing.

She also stressed the significance of screen testing to detecting COVID-19 cases at industrial parks.

Le Anh Duong, Chairwoman of the neighbouring province of Bac Giang, also stricken by the pandemic, pointed out major causes of transmission at industrial parks, and suggested other localities prepare on-the-spot plans, especially improving testing capacity./.

Storm Koguma weakens into tropical depression, no damage reported

Storm Koguma, the second storm to hit Việt Nam this year, weakened into a tropical depression on Sunday after reaching the central province of Nghệ An.

The storm caused heavy rainfall and thunderstorms in the northern region, including Hà Nội, and in the central provinces from Thanh Hóa to Quảng Trị.

 

No casualties or property damage were reported. 

High school entrance exam sitters in Hà Nội had a difficult commute to their test venues on Sunday because of the rain.

Risks of flash floods and landslides were forecast in the northern provinces of Hòa Bình, Sơn La, Lào Cai, Yên Bái, Phú Thọ, Tuyên Quang, Thái Nguyên, Quảng Ninh, Lạng Sơn, Lai Châu and Điện Biên, as well as the central provinces from Thanh Hóa to Hà Tĩnh.

Moderate and heavy rainfall was forecast to continue in the northwest region Monday morning.

The Central Steering Committee for Natural Disaster Prevention and Control has been collaborating with the Directorate of Fisheries and the Border Guard Command to keep track of fishing vessels at seas, as well as maintaining communication with fishermen to help them avoid the storm.

Local authorities were tasked with ensuring safety at dyke constructions and keep track of water levels in paddy fields at low-lying, urban areas and industrial parks to avoid sudden floods. 

Singer presents music video dedicated to LGBT community

Two years after leaving Vietnamese showbiz to head to the US to study, singer Hương Tràm has surprised her fans by releasing a music video Đong Tình (Flirting) touching on LGBT issues.

A project with songwriter Tú Dưa, a former member of the once-famous boyband Quả Dưa Hấu (The Watermelon), the video is about a love triangle between a woman and two men.

On the conception of the video, the singer said that since she was a child, she felt she was more sensitive than her peers.

“I could recognise some friends who had different and extremely sensitive hearts. To this day, they are still my best friends and my loyal audience, who are always by my side,” she said.

“My video depicts the pain and sacrifice of people who still haven’t been accepted widely by the whole of society,” Tràm said.

Aiming to present a message that “love is among any of us and regardless of gender and social class”, the video is for music lovers as well as anyone who supports equality, she said.

“The music video has premiered in Pride Month, after two years without any music product, I hope it would not make my audience disappointed,” Hương Tràm said.

In the video, the singer plays the role of a wife who learns her husband is in love with a male colleague. The video features her pain and the experience of the two men and the pain they feel at having to keep their love hidden.

The video took the singer and her English-speaking team three days to film.

"The biggest challenge for me during the filming process was probably the language barrier. I've been in the US for two years. Everything is new for me, including the language. I couldn't have done the shooting without the help of young friends I met here in the US,” the singer said.

According to songwriter Tú Dưa, the recording process faced several obstacles due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the geographical distance between Việt Nam and the US.

“The pop ballad song was recorded when Hương Tràm flew back to Việt Nam. The recording was given to four different musicians for arrangement. The singer then selected the best version to bring to the US for mastering,” Tú Dưa revealed.

Before working on this project, in 2018, the songwriter also composed the hit Duyên Mình Lỡ (Hopeless Love) for Hương Tràm.

His ballads presenting delicate and romantic lyrics have helped his former Quả Dưa Hấu bandmate Tuấn Hưng have a solid reputation in Việt Nam’s contemporary music scene.

He also composed the song Giữ Lại Hạnh Phúc (Hold Back the Happiness) for singer Thu Phương.

Born in 1995 in Vinh City in the central province of Nghệ An, Hương Tràm won the first season of The Voice Vietnam in 2012. A year later, in 2013, she bagged the Việt Nam’s Devotion Music Award for 'The New Artist of the Year'.

Her video Em Gái Mưa (The Rainy Girl) brought the singer the second Devotion Award for 'The MV of the Year' in 2018. In the same year, she was given the Best Asian Artist Vietnam title at the Mnet Asian Music Awards (MAMA) 2018 in Hong Kong.

New songs honour frontline forces battling pandemic

As Việt Nam is facing the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, new music productions have been released to honour frontline forces.

Tỏa Sáng Việt Nam (Việt Nam Shines Bright) is a new song by young singer and songwriter Bùi Công Nam to show his love and gratitude to health workers and frontline workers who are working day and night to take care of and protect the community.

The song has meaningful lyrics combined with a joyful melody that bring faith and joy to people.

Nam said: “The song reflects my pride as a Vietnamese. I expect Vietnamese people to keep strong together to overcome the challenging time and make Việt Nam shine.”

The song features the voices of Nam, singer Miu Lê and rapper GDucky.

GDucky, runner-up of TV reality show Rap Việt 2020, wrote rap lyrics for the song, calling on people to fight against the pandemic, donate to the national COVID-19 vaccine fund, and praise the solidarity and bravery of frontline forces and Vietnamese people.

The MV contains beautiful images of healthcare workers across the country working to protect people, as well as charity activities such as Việt Nam Red Cross Society’s campaign to help farmers in pandemic-hit localities sell agricultural products, and "rice ATMs" to support the poor across the country.

MV Tỏa Sáng Việt Nam was released on YouTube on June 4, and has earned more than 517,000 views and hundreds of compliments for its emotional lyrics.

Singer and songwriter Nam was born in 1994 in the Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) province of Đắk Lắk.

He became popular after competing in Bài Hát Hay Nhất (Sing My Song), a TV reality show about original songs, launched by the Việt Nam Television in 2016. His music is pop, ballad and country.

He won Song of the Year at the 2019 Cống Hiến (Devotion) Awards given by Thể Thao & Văn Hóa (Sports & Culture) with his song Có Ai Thương Em Như Anh (Nobody Loves You As I Do).

This year, he became a hit on social media in Việt Nam after joining  Xuân Hạ Thu Đông Rồi Lại Xuân (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, and Spring), a TV reality show showcasing street performances of favourite Vietnamese singers.

Its videos, which screen live performances on HCM City streets, have earned tens of millions of views on YouTube.

Lieutenant Colonel Vũ Thị Huyền Ngọc of the cultural house of the Việt Nam Border Guard’s Political Department has released a song Lời Ru Nơi Tuyến Đầu (Lullabies at Frontline) as a gift to the country’s heroes who are sacrificing to protect the people.

Ngọc said she wrote the song to honour motherhood after seeing a baby girl cry when she saw on TV her mother, a doctor sent to Bắc Giang Province, a hotspot of the latest COVID-19 outbreak.

“As a mother, I cried at this beautiful image,” Ngọc said.

The song also expressed her gratitude to her women colleagues and frontline forces who left their families and children to fulfil their duties.

Lời Ru Nơi Tuyến Đầu is Ngọc’s third motivational song during the pandemic, along with songs Vì Nơi Ấy Có Anh (Because You’re Here) and Nếu Anh Không Về (If You Don’t Return).

As recognition for her contribution to the fight against the pandemic, the General Department of Politics under the Việt Nam People's Army last year granted Ngọc a certificate of merit for studying and following President Hồ Chí Minh’s thought, morality and lifestyle.

Experts call on community to keep donating blood

Health experts have called on the community to maintain blood donation activities to ensure blood sources for emergency aid and treatment at hospitals on the occasion of World Blood Donor Day (June 14).

President of the Việt Nam Red Cross Society and Permanent Deputy Head of the National Steering Committee for Voluntarily Blood Donation Mobilisation, Nguyễn Thị Xuân Thu, said that COVID-19 seriously impacted blood donation mobilisation and collection activities.

“On this occasion, we call on those who are healthy enough to donate blood, which is the responsibility and sacred duty of every citizen. I also request the Steering Committees at all levels and relevant authorities to honour and praise typical examples of blood donation and mobilise relatives and friends to participate in blood donation, especially amid the COVID-19 outbreak in the community,” said Thu.

The appeal was made as blood shortages have occurred across the country due to a decline in blood donors amid the COVID-19 pandemic spreading in many provinces and cities nationwide.

“Each unit of blood is valuable as a lifebuoy for the patient. I want each person to stay healthy so that they can keep a regular blood donation rhythm and to give patients the safest blood source,” said the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion director Bạch Quốc Khánh.

Khánh said the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected blood donation activities and blood transfusion safety globally as well as in Việt Nam. Despite challenges of organising blood donations during the pandemic, millions of people around the world still continue to make efforts to donate blood, including blood for treating COVID-19 patients.

“Over one million blood donations in our country in 2020 and tens of thousands of people who came to donate blood during the COVID-19 outbreak have shown the community's responsibility in helping the health sector overcome the blood shortage,” said Khánh.

“I’m very happy to say that all blood donors are safe and none tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Ensuring the safety of blood donors, medical staff and blood recipients is always the number one priority of blood transfusion facilities,” added Khánh. 

On the occasion, 100 outstanding blood donors across the country will be honoured for their contribution to the country’s blood donation mobilisation movement, 14 of them have donated blood 50 times or more. Huỳnh Thanh Hùng from HCM City has donated blood 74 times, followed by Nguyễn Hoàng Nhơn also from HCM City with 70 blood donations, Phan Vũ Quốc Chinh from HCM City donated blood 64 times, Nguyễn Văn Lâm from Trà Vinh Province 63 times and Nguyễn Văn Nguyên from Hà Nội 60 times. They have donated a total 3,220 units.

With the theme “Give blood and keep the world beating”, World Blood Donor Day aims to raise global awareness of the need for safe blood and blood products for transfusion and of the critical contribution voluntary, unpaid blood donors make to national health systems.

The day also provides an opportunity to call governments and national health authorities to provide adequate resources and put into place systems and infrastructure to increase the collection of blood from voluntary, non-remunerated blood donors.

On this occasion, the World Health Organisation also called on the Government, health sector and blood transfusion services of countries to ensure sufficient resources and facilities to ensure the quality and effectiveness of blood collection.

In Việt Nam, the health sector has received more than 1.4 million blood units, equivalent to nearly 1.5 per cent of the population participating in blood donation; in which, 99 per cent of blood came from voluntary blood donors. In the first five months of 2021, blood donation campaigns such as the Red Spring Festival and the All People's Voluntary Blood Donor Day (April 7), the whole country collected nearly 425,000 blood units. 

HCM City sets up working group to buy COVID-19 vaccines

HCM City authorities have set up a working team responsible for buying COVID-19 vaccines for at least two-thirds of its population by year-end, said Nguyễn Thành Phong, chairman of the People’s Committee, during an online meeting on June 11.

Speaking about the city’s economic development in the first five months of the year, Phong said the city would speed up the vaccination drive by encouraging the business community to connect with suppliers. 

The city had achieved “remarkable results” in its implementation of its “dual goal” of maintaining the economy while applying strict COVID preventive measures in the first five months, he said.

“The city will continue its flexible economic management and pandemic prevention measures.”

Since the fourth wave that began in late April, the city has detected more than 630 locally transmitted cases, ranking third in the country. The cases have been mostly related to the Gò Vấp District cluster. 

Phong said the outbreak was basically under control, but warned that the situation remained unpredictable because infection chains without known sources of infection continue to occur.

The city will continue to take serious measures to contain the spread. It has banned religious and group activities, suspended citizen-identification granting procedures, and postponed the entrance exam for 10th grade until further notice, among other social-distancing measures. 

The city plans to offer another support package for companies and workers affected by the outbreak, according to Phong.

Since the beginning of 2021, some 1,365 firms in the city have been affected, with more than 42,500 workers losing their jobs, according to the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

More than 400 companies are in urgent need of preferential loans for wage payments to workers to maintain their business operations.

More than 2,270 enterprises completed dissolution procedures in the first five months of the year (up 4.99 per cent year-on-year), and 9,308 enterprises temporarily suspended operations (up 22.99 per cent year-on-year).

Phong said the city would also set up a working group to speed up the progress of major traffic projects.

The city had asked the Department of Transport to report on seaport toll collection to the People’s Committee, and would continue to accelerate implementation of digital transformation and smart city projects. It would also strengthen fire and explosion prevention measures. 

Lê Thị Huỳnh Mai, director of the Department of Planning and Investment, said the city’s total retail sales of consumer goods and services in the first five months were up 8.9 per cent year-on-year. Accommodation and catering service sales increased in the period by 30.8 per cent year-on-year.

Exports reached $19.63 billion in the first five months, up 15.1 per cent year-on-year. Total state budget revenue was estimated at more than VNĐ174 trillion, up 22.8 per cent year-on-year.

Of the figure, exports of hi-tech products at the Saigon Hi-Tech Park reached $8.37 billion in the first five months, up 26.5 per cent year-on-year.  

The industrial production index (IIP) increased by 7.4 per cent over the same period. As many as 6,461 enterprises resumed operation in the period.

HCM City opens two more COVID-19 treatment health facilities

The 500-bed Củ Chi COVID-19 Treatment Hospital in HCM City’s Củ Chi District on June 12 was officially put into use, and the COVID-19 Treatment Unit at Phạm Ngọc Thạch Hospital in District 5 will open on the 13th.

Human resources for these facilities are health officials from departments of contagious diseases, resuscitation, and emergency services at the city’s major hospitals.   

The facilities will help the city adapt to the ongoing COVID outbreak. The Hospital for Tropical Diseases said three of its staff were suspected of having contracted COVID-19. This will be confirmed later by the Ministry of Health.

The Hospital for Tropical Diseases is temporarily locked down for tracing contacts and stamping out the spread. However, the hospital continues providing reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 patients who are staying there.

On the same day, the city Department of Health sent an urgent dispatch about health staff compliance with regulations on COVID-19 prevention and control after working hours.

To minimize the risk of cross-infection in hospitals and from outside hospitals, the department has instructed the directors of hospitals to urgently ask their employees to improve their self-discipline in COVID-19 prevention and control.

Health staff should always comply with the Ministry of Health’s 5k message:  masks - disinfection - distance – no mass gathering - health declarations. They should also wear masks during working hours.

Moreover, after working hours at hospitals, health staff should stay at home and limit contact with their neighbours and friends.  

The city has recorded small COVID-19 clusters in its districts. Besides the transmission risk from COVID-19 patients who visit hospitals, health staff face other transmission risks from outside and could transmit the virus to their colleagues.  

Two of the three staff at the Hospital for Tropical Diseases who may have contracted COVID-19 live in Hóc Môn District and the other resides in Bình Tân District. 

Cancer patient dies of COVID-related complications

A woman being treated for lung cancer has died of COVID-related complications. She is the 58th fatality in Việt Nam.

The 64-year-old who lives in Hà Nội’s Ứng Hòa District was undergoing chemotherapy at the capital’s K Hospital when she tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on May 14.

She received treatment for the virus but because of her pre-existing illness, her immune system was weak and she failed to respond to medication.

The woman died on June 11 and her cause of death has been recorded as septic shock and pneumonia caused by SARS-CoV-2 in lung cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. 

Researchers propose measures for a successful vaccination strategy

Independent Vietnamese researchers from the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Australia, have proposed four measures for a successful vaccination strategy in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak in Việt Nam.

Nguyễn Thu Anh, the country director of the institute, said vaccination is the key solution for the country to escape from the pandemic, get back to normal and be able to open its borders.

“A successful vaccination campaign is one that will be conducted widely, quickly, safely and effectively,” she said.

Anh, together with her colleague, Ngô Hoàng Anh, recommended four key measures to launch a successful campaign.

Better capacity

First, they called for decentralisation, digitisation and improvement of capacity in handling vaccine-related side effects to speed up inoculation.

Vaccination speed is an important factor affecting the vaccine allocation decision of the COVAX Facility. In addition, the shelf life of vaccine batches provided through this programme is usually about half to two-thirds shorter than the shelf life specified by the company. Therefore, rapid vaccination not only protects people but also determines the number of vaccines the country receives.

The nation's biggest advantage in COVID-19 prevention and control is the grassroots health system, which includes about 11,000 ward/commune-level health stations.

To rapidly increase vaccination capacity, it is necessary to take full advantage of this by decentralisation of the inoculation programme to the grassroots level, training health workers on anaphylaxis management with the support of mobile ambulance from district or provincial hospitals, and digitising the vaccination workflow, Thu Anh said.

Digitisation is not only convenient for the future deployment of vaccine passports but also helps optimise resources.

People could access a vaccination registration website to declare personal information and make a medical declaration before vaccination. Healthy people with a low risk of side effects can be classified into the safe group and register for vaccination at the commune health station where they are residing. As a result, the commune/ward health station can prepare for vaccination sessions by contacting registered people via text message.

“People at risk of side effects of the vaccine such as a history of anaphylaxis, a history of blood clotting disorders, etc. could be classified into groups that need careful monitoring, and registered for vaccination according to the list of hospitals," said Thu Anh.

After vaccination, people could be provided with a certificate with full information such as the type of vaccine injected, number of shots, batch number, date of vaccination along with a QR code to access the electronic history. Vaccination information could also be linked to Government-issued anti-COVID applications such as Bluezone, VHD and the National TMCR system to issue vaccine passports.

“Looking at the data of developed countries, we find that after the first 2-3 months of the survey, these countries will vaccinate at an average rate of about 0.5-1 per cent of the population/day. Thus, with 11,000 primary health stations, eight working hours/day, five to six patients/hour and one injection course at a time, if there is no disruption to the supply chain, we have the capacity and facilities to inject about 0.5 per cent of the population or 500,000 doses/day. At this time, to get herd immunity, it will take us a full year, that is, until the third or fourth quarter of 2022,” Thu Anh said.

Effective vaccines

The second recommendation is to use highly effective vaccines.

"The selection of the right vaccine directly affects the effectiveness of the vaccination campaign in controlling of the pandemic in the community. Early or late opening of the border depends on our choice,” Thu Anh said.

Researchers suggested vaccines be divided into two groups.

Group 1 would feature vaccines that have been widely used, have clear clinical trial data, are deployed in many countries on a large scale, and have a full side effect record system such as Pfizer - BioNTech, Moderna, Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca), Novavax and Janssen (Johnson & Johnson). 

Group 2 would have vaccines proven to be effective but need more evidence as well as testing with new variants such as Sputnik V, Sinopharm BBIBP - CorV and Sinovac.

“Priority should be given to vaccines that have been shown to be highly effective against the virus variants that have been reported as well as the variant of concern that have been reported elsewhere,” she said.

This table shows the final model inputs for vaccine efficacy at preventing disease and infection, by vaccine and variant type. Source: The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), University of Washington. 
According to the Ministry of Health, Việt Nam has agreements with at least 105 million doses of group 1 and 20 million doses of group 2 (accounting for 62.5 per cent of the population), including 70 million doses of Vaxzevria (38.9 million doses from COVAX Facility programme and 30 million doses from the contract with VNVC), 31 million doses of Pfizer - BioNTech, 20 million doses of Sputnik V and 5 million doses of Moderna.

Adjusting the plan

The third recommendation is changing the domestic COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan due to current inconsistencies.

According to Decision 1210/2021, issued on February 9, people over 65 years of age and people with chronic diseases are among 11 priority groups for vaccination against COVID-19 in Việt Nam.

However, in Decision 1624/2021 issued more than a month later, on provisional guidelines for pre-vaccination screening, these two groups were listed as subject to delay or caution in vaccination.

According to WHO recommendations, priority populations for vaccination include those at high risk of dying from the disease, such as the elderly and those with underlying/chronic medical conditions.

Therefore, in any country in the first phase of vaccination, in addition to staff involved in pandemic prevention, the old, the sick and pregnant women should be next.

Trials

The last recommendation is to conduct clinical trials in high-risk areas.

Locally produced vaccines are entering different stages of clinical trials, including Nanocovax in phase 3 in early June, and IVAC in phase 1/2.

While the current outbreak posing a significant challenge to the health system, this is also a "golden" opportunity for Việt Nam to see the effectiveness of vaccines researched in the country, Hoàng Anh said.

Testing at the epicentre of the outbreak also creates a real test for large-scale, mass-production capabilities before being approved for emergency use on a scale of up to tens of millions of doses.

“Conducting a vaccination campaign that can be said to be the largest in history can be very difficult. Just we take one wrong step, such as the selection of an ineffective vaccine, slow, unsafe vaccination, etc., the pandemic can completely return and erupt more violently. Therefore, we must at the same time be quick, but decisive and precise,” Hoàng Anh said.

Việt Nam's preparation

Minister of Health Nguyễn Thanh Long said Việt Nam is promoting the purchase of technology, receiving technology transfer for vaccine production to be able to produce vaccines to serve domestic demand.

The clinical trials of Vietnamese COVID-19 vaccine candidate Nano Covax are set to enter Phase 3 this month, aiming to further test the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in humans before mass production.

Another domestic vaccine contender, Covivac from the Institute of Vaccines and Biological Medical (IVAC), is preparing for Phase 1 trial data to be reviewed by the Ministry of Health and could start Phase 2 around late June or early July.

Another locally-developed COVID-19 vaccine, from Vabiotech, is in pre-clinical trials on animals, and another from Polyvac (the Centre for Research and Production of Vaccines and Biologicals, under the Ministry of Health) is still under laboratory research.

Regarding plans for vaccine rollout when more doses are available, Phạm Quang Thái, head of the northern regional office of the National Expanded Programme on Immunisation, said the current system will be used.

"We have everything ready with the current national expanded programme on immunisation, so once the vaccines are here, we'll just apply the same model," he said. 

Source: VNA/VNS/VOV/VIR/SGT/Nhan Dan/Hanoitimes

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