Vietnam in talks to produce Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine - media

HANOI, May 22 (Reuters) - A research centre under Vietnam’s health ministry is in talks with Russia to produce the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine in the country, local media reported on Saturday.

The Russian partner would initially transfer semi-finished products along with instructions to the Ministry of Health’s Polyvac Center to produce around 50 million doses a year, the online newspaper VnExpress reported, without identifying the partner.

An official at Polyvac confirmed to Reuters that the talks were underway, but declined to give further details.

In a later stage, Polyvac would produce the vaccine from scratch, the report said, citing an unnamed Polyvac source.

The report said Vietnam was also in talks to buy the Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccine from Russia for domestic use before any domestic production of the shot.

In March, Vietnam approved Sputnik V for use against COVID-19, the second coronavirus shot to be approved in the Southeast Asian country after the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The country has administered around 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine since it began its vaccination campaign in early March. It has received about 2.6 million doses, mostly through the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance said this week it planned to set up a 25.2 trillion dong ($1.1 billion) fund to acquire 150 million COVID-19 vaccine doses for its population. (Reporting by Khanh Vu Editing by Ros Russell)