Doses of Cuba's Abdala coronavirus vaccine are seen at a vaccination centre in Caracas, Venezuela. File/Reuters
Vietnam has approved Cuba's Abdala vaccine for use against the new coronavirus, the government said on Saturday, as the Southeast Asian country is battling its worst outbreak.
Cuba has two homegrown vaccines, Abdala and Soberana, that it says are safe and effective. Both require three shots. In previous weeks, the government started vaccinating people between 11 and 18 years old.
Cuba faces a persistent outbreak of COVID-19, putting heavy pressure on medical facilities and compounding economic problems. Hard-hit provinces such as Matanzas, Ciego de Ávila and Cienfuegos have received support from doctors from other areas of the country as well as international donations.
Abdala becomes the eighth COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Vietnam, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the region, with only 6.3% of its 98 million people having received at least two shots.
The announcement came hours after President Nguyen Xuan Phuc left Hanoi for an official visit to Havana.
Vietnam has recorded 667,650 coronavirus infections and 16,637 deaths, the vast majority in the Delta-driven outbreak from late April.
"The ministry of health has approved Abdala vaccine, based on the country's urgent need for its COVID-19 fight," the government said in a statement.
The ministry did not say how many doses of the Russian vaccine it had ordered, or when it expected to receive them. Vietnam's own home-grown vaccine will be available by the end of 2021, the ministry said last month.
Venezuela’s vaccine rollout has been slow, with the country receiving just 250,000 Russian Sputnik V vaccine doses and half a million from China’s Sinopharm to date.
Several doctors in Cuba have taken to social media to decry shortages of medicine, oxygen and other materials needed to battle a dire COVID-19 outbreak, in a rare public denunciation of conditions in the island’s hallowed healthcare system. The outcry comes in
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