He made the statement at a nationwide online meeting on health work and disease prevention yesterday in Hanoi chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam with the participation of Vice Chairman of the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City Duong Anh Duc and health officials from the Ho Chi Minh City Steering Committee for Disease Prevention and Control, heads of departments and agencies.
Speaking at the meeting, Deputy Health Minister Do Xuan Tuyen said that, in the world, the Omicron variant has recently been recorded as dominant with the sub-branches BA.2, BA.2.3, BA.2.3.2, while the sub-variant BA.5 has been recorded in many countries; therefore, it is highly likely that the disease will enter Vietnam resulting in an increase in Covid-19 cases in next time.
Mr. Tuyen emphasized that with the development of the epidemic in the world, two situations can occur. Firstly, the virus strain continues to evolve, but the number of severe cases and deaths is low thanks to herd immunity. The epidemic is no longer serious or a new but less severe variant appears.
Secondly, the appearance of a new, more dangerous variant that is likely to reduce the effectiveness of the vaccine or immunity, causing an increase in severe cases or deaths, and the risk of a strong outbreak, on a large scale, beyond the capacity of the country’s health system.
Therefore, he proposed to continue carrying out preventative measures including boosting vaccination with special attention to high -risk groups. Additionally, the health sector and local administrations should increase communication to raise people’s awareness of epidemic prevention.
The Deputy Minister of Health also noted that the rate of vaccination is still slow, especially the third dose for people over 50 years old and for children from 5 to under 12 years old as there is a backlog of many Covid-19 vaccines at the central and local levels, leading to the risk of expiration, which must be canceled if the vaccine is not received and implemented soon.
Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Lien Huong announced that up to now, the World Health Organization and countries have identified vaccines as the most effective measure to prevent the Covid-19 epidemic.
Around the world, many people in countries globally have got the third and fourth doses of the Covid-19 vaccine. Furthermore, more than 80 countries have implemented vaccinations for children from 5 to under 12 years old and some countries have vaccinated children under 5 years old.
She also revealed there is currently no scientific evidence to confirm that the Covid-19 vaccine has long-term effects on people's health while the effectiveness of the vaccine decreases relatively quickly. Therefore, to maintain the protective effect, it is necessary to inject the third and fourth doses according to the Ministry of Health’s instructions.
At the meeting, the Ministry of Health suggested that localities boosted vaccination of third and fourth doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to urgently completed the vaccination roll-out for people over 18 years old and give the basic dose for children aged 12-17 in the second quarter under the direction of the Government.
At the same time, localities were urged to review and propose doses of Covid-19 vaccine for people aged 18 years and older and report to the Ministry of Health for timely planning and allocation; plus, local administrations should actively deploy Covid-19 vaccine booster the fourth dose for people aged 50 years and older, immunocompromised persons aged 18 years and older and people 18 years of age and older in a high-risk group for exposure to Covid-19.
At the same time, localities must actively review industrial parks, and tourist service areas in the area, giving priority to early vaccination for workers, who are at high risk of infection, and need to be directed to achieve a coverage rate of over 90 percent in these target groups to ensure herd immunity in the near future.
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam asked the Ministry of Health to arrange all documents to provide detailed instructions on the injection of the booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine for different target groups.
Local administrations were asked to report on the number of vaccines for specific target groups as well as strengthen the dissemination of information, especially about new strains that may appear. In addition, possible side effects after getting a Covid-19 vaccine must be made clear to mobilize people to inject safely in the immediate and long term.
Regarding measures to prevent and control the V2K epidemic (vaccines, masks, disinfection), the Deputy Prime Minister asked the Ministry of Health to urgently review and specify localities where it is mandatory to implement.
Regarding difficulties in medical equipment and medicine, Deputy Minister Do Xuan Tuyen said that in the first six months of the year, the Ministry of Health issued circulation registration certificates for 963 drugs and announced a list of 6,251 drugs whose circulation registration certificates expire before June 30 and are valid until December 31 to partially remove difficulties for hospitals.
At the same time, the Ministry has issued 738 permits to import biological products for laboratory testing as well as 21,762 licenses to import medical equipment and 22 circulation numbers of medical equipment for Covid-19 prevention and control in urgent cases.
He announced that the Ministry of Health has also released about 140,000 price declarations of medical equipment currently for infirmaries to look up and use as a basis for purchasing and selling medical equipment.
However, leaders of infirmaries in some localities said that the shortage of medicines, medical supplies, and equipment is mainly due to fear of making mistakes, fear of being inspected and tested and factors such as epidemic situations, and disease pattern whereas bidding is delayed longer than expected due to expired registration numbers of some drugs.
Along with that, there are a number of difficulties due to the delay in the results of national centralized bidding and price negotiation for some drugs for national centralized procurement, leading to establishments to carry out on-site procurement.
Faced with this situation, Deputy Minister Do Xuan Tuyen said that the Ministry of Health will soon work with relevant ministries and agencies to coordinate in adjusting, supplementing, and removing difficulties in bidding and drug procurement, and medical supplies.
Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam asked not to let the lack of medicine, equipment, and medical supplies affect the treatment of patients. The Ministry must solve the problem with flexible and specific measures, especially centralized bidding. After listening to opinions on problems in procurement and bidding for drugs, equipment, and medical supplies, the Ministry of Health will work with Vietnam Social Security, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Planning and Investment for removing the bottlenecks.