Vietnam’s largest conglomerate Vingroup has started recruiting personnel for the homegrown production of Covid-19 vaccines, while the government is considering approving locally-made vaccine Nano Covax, the most promising out of four candidates, for emergency use soon.
Vingroup on August 2 announced job vacancies for the latest project, saying it is partnering with US biotechnology firm Arcturus Therapeutics on mRNA vaccine production. Initial clinical trials are expected to begin in the country this month. If the trials are successful, the partnership will have a capacity of producing 100-200 million doses of vaccine annually, Vingroup says.
Arcturus Therapeutics, based in San Diego, California, is a clinical-stage messenger RNA (mRNA) medicines company focused on the development of vaccines against infectious diseases and rare liver and respiratory diseases.
It has developed a vaccine called Arcturus Covid-19 using the same mRNA technology for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines against the disease. No actual virus exists in the vaccine; instead, the technology provides instructions for human cells to make a protein that triggers an immune response.
The announced positions, based in the capital of Hanoi, include formulation and fill/finish manager; packaging manager; head of site & chemistry, manufacturing, and controls (CMC) regulatory affairs & compliance; head of engineering; head of development; validation manager; head of quality control; and warehouse manager.
This June Vingroup established Vinbiocare Biotechnology JSC to focus on manufacturing drugs, pharmaceutical chemicals, and medicinal herbs, as well as vaccine production, scientific research, and technology development.
Meanwhile, the Vietnamese government is considering approving homegrown vaccine Nano Covax for emergency use against Covid-19 as it is the most promising among four candidates. The vaccine, based on recombinant DNA/protein technology, has been in the third phase of human trials involving 13,000 volunteers since June, according to a government statement. Second jabs of the vaccine are expected to be administered by August 15.
In another development, the Russian Direct Investment Fund – Russia's sovereign wealth fund – on July 21 announced that Vietnamese firm Vabiotech had produced the first test batch of Sputnik V vaccines.
Vabiotech said quality control checks by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, headquartered in Moscow, showed the vaccines met standards. The Vietnamese firm plans to initially start packaging five million Sputnik V doses a month, using materials from Russia, and produce 100 million doses a year later. In March the Ministry of Health approved the Sputnik V vaccine for domestic use.
Vietnam, home to more than 98 million people, has been struggling to control fierce outbreaks of the fast-spreading Delta variant of the coronavirus since May, with its southern economic hub Ho Chi Minh City and neighbouring provinces among the worst-hit.