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COVID vaccines

Vietnam approves China's Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use

Supply shortage pushed Hanoi to allow doses despite Beijing tensions

A box of Sinopharm's coronavirus vaccine: Vietnam has been the only ASEAN country not to receive shots from China.   © Reuters

HANOI -- Vietnam's Health Ministry has authorized a COVID-19 vaccine from China's Sinopharm for emergency use as the Southeast Asian country grapples with a wave of infections.

The decision Thursday was reported by local media. Vietnam already allowed the AstraZeneca vaccine and the Russian-developed Sputnik V.

The World Health Organization added the Sinopharm vaccine to its emergency use list in May.

This is the first COVID-19 vaccine from China to be cleared by Hanoi, which has been locked in a territorial dispute with Beijing in the South China Sea. Vietnam has stood alone among the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in not receiving shots from China.

Only about 1% of the Vietnamese population has received at least one dose, and more supply is urgently needed. Whether Hanoi takes the next step of importing vaccines from China remains to be seen.

The country has reported more than 8,000 cumulative cases of COVID-19 so far in a population of nearly 100 million -- fewer than many of its neighbors. But cases have picked up since late April, with community spread seen in industrial areas in the north, and the Health Ministry had indicated that it would authorize WHO-listed shots once the necessary paperwork was complete.

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