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HANOI, Vietnam, Tues. Aug 24, 2021 (Reuters) – Cuba will supply large quantities of its home-grown COVID-19 vaccine, Abdala, to Vietnam despite battling the virus at home.

The Cuban government will also transfer the production technology to the Southeast Asian country by the end of the year, the Vietnamese health ministry said today.

After successfully containing the disease for much of the pandemic, Vietnam has been struggling to control its worst outbreak to date, with a spike in infections and deaths ramping up pressure on authorities to speed up vaccinations.

“Cuba will send a large number of COVID doses and a team to Vietnam to support technology transfer by the end of this year,” the health ministry said in a statement, without specifying the number of doses.

Cuba has said its three-shot Abdala vaccine was 92.28% effective against the coronavirus in last-stage clinical trials in June. But the country now leads the Caribbean region in most infections and deaths. Cuba now has over 592,000 COVID-19 infections and over 4,600 are dead. Almost 10,000 new cases were reported Monday as the number of active cases near 50,000.

Vietnam has so far signed deals for recombinant DNA protein and mRNA vaccine technology transfer and is also in talk with U.S. company Pfizer about locating a vaccine plant in the country.

The Southeast Asian country has secured more than 23 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines and expects to receive at least 50 million doses in the fourth quarter, the health ministry said.

Vietnam’s inoculation programme, which started in March, is still at an early stage with just 1.9% of the country’s 98 million people fully vaccinated – one of the lowest rates in the region.

(Editing by Ed Davies)

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