HANOI (Reuters) – European business leaders in Vietnam are urging the government to allow private companies to procure COVID-19 vaccines and inoculate their own staff, as the country battles its biggest outbreak since the start of the pandemic.
“This would reduce the burden on the state budget while also helping to accelerate the government’s vaccination drive,” the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham) said in a statement.
After successfully containing the coronavirus for most of last year, Vietnam is now tackling a new outbreak that is spreading more quickly, infecting more than 3,200 people in 30 of its 63 cities and provinces since late April.
The Southeast Asian country, with a population of 98 million, has administered more than one million COVID-19 vaccine doses so far out of 2.9 million it has received, well short of the vaccination rate in some neighbouring countries.
EuroCham also encouraged the government to ease quarantine regulations for investors and experts who have been vaccinated in their home countries, it said in the statement.
It said the three-week quarantine period foreigners currently face would result in fewer specialists coming, hitting foreign investment and hurting the operations of companies depending on key technicians.
“While Vietnam’s borders are closed, other countries are rolling-out vaccinations and re-opening their doors to the world,” EuroCham Chairman Alain Cany said in the statement.
“The private sector – including foreign enterprise – can help speed-up Vietnam’s vaccination efforts.”
Earlier this week, the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Hanoi also urged Vietnam to ease its lengthy quarantine period for vaccinated travellers and allow the private sector to help procure vaccines.
Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang told a media briefing on Thursday that Vietnam is preparing a new set of “appropriate and effective” quarantine regulations for people entering the country.
The government on Wednesday also approved a special fund to drive its vaccination programme, which could also seek contributions from private organisations and individuals for its operations.
(Reporting by Khanh Vu and James Pearson; Editing by Ed Davies)