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Pfizer, Moderna vaccines interchangeable as first and second dose: Health ministry

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A health worker in Hà Nội holds up a vial of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. — VNA/ Photo 

HÀ NỘI — The Vietnamese health ministry’s vaccine advisory body has just announced that mRNA COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna can be used interchangeably as first and second doses, amid supply shortage.

Localities are supposed to set plans/reserve second doses as more Moderna supplies are currently not available, but in the push for a larger uptake of the first dose of vaccine in many COVID-19 hot spots, including HCM City, health authorities have decided to use up all the vaccines they are allocated.

Since the beginning of the week, many people in HCM City who are scheduled to receive their second Moderna shot have been offered another mRNA vaccine – Pfizer – as an alternative, but the administration of the shots still requires consent.

The only source of Moderna Việt Nam has at the moment is five million doses as a donation from the US Government via COVAX Facility. HCM City and the health ministry have spoken of a purchase deal for 5 million doses of Moderna through its distribution partner in Southeast Asia Zuellig Pharma, but an agreement has not been finalised with the mother company.

Pfizer is expected to be more available as Việt Nam has signed an agreement for 51 million doses with the US company, to be fulfilled within this year, but the delivery to the country will concentrate mostly in the final quarter.

Việt Nam has received various types of COVID-19 vaccines for use in its national inoculation drive, including viral vector vaccines (AstraZeneca/Oxford and Sputnik V), mRNA technology vaccines (Pfizer/BioNTech), and inactivated vaccine (Sinopharm’s Vero Cell).

The health ministry still recommends that the first and second doses should be the same, but mixing and matching of vaccines has been implemented by many countries and showed positive results without any concerning complications reported.

The vaccine council body under the health ministry also said that those who have received AstraZeneca as the first jab could get either Pfizer and Moderna shots as the second (previously it only allowed Pfizer).

Local health authorities and vaccination sites are supposed to treat people who receive two different types of COVID-19 vaccines as special cases and submit a separate report to the health ministry for monitoring.

771,937 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered on Tuesday, bringing the country’s total doses to nearly 23.6 million. Nearly 3.8 million people have been fully vaccinated.

The country has received about 33 million doses of vaccines so far. —

Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/politics-laws/1027361/pfizer-moderna-vaccines-interchangeable-as-first-and-second-dose-health-ministry.html

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29 ministries, provinces have 4th-level online public services

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As of the end of the third quarter, 29 ministries, branches and localities, or 35 percent, have completed the upgrade to provide 100 percent of public services online at level 4, the highest level of online public services.

29 ministries, provinces have 4th-level online public services

The information was released by Nguyen Phu Tien, Deputy Director of Authority of IT Application (ITA), at an online workshop announcing the results of the assessment on digital transformation at ministerial and provincial levels in 2020.

The national digital transformation program approved by the Prime Minister in June 2020 clearly says that people are at the center of the transformation. Developing digital economy will help generate higher incomes, while developing a digital society will make people happier.

With this view, the strategy towards digital Government in 2021-2025, approved in mid-June 2021, sets the goal of fulfilling the criteria for e-Government development by 2021 and forming digital Government by 2025.

Providing 100 percent of public services online at Level 4 is defined as an important task in building e-Government and digital Government. The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) has closely cooperated with ministries, branches and localities to implement the task.

To urge agencies and localities to fulfill the task, MIC has released six documents providing guidance on implementation, including guidance on planning, and building an implementation process. It also provided lists of public services eligible for an upgrade to Level 4 in some provinces for other provinces’ reference.

By the end of Q3 2020, all the 20 ministries and branches which provide public services, and 60 out of 63 cities and provinces, or 95 percent, had released plans and lists of public services eligible for an upgrade to Level 4.

According to ITA, as of September 20, fourth-level online public services accounted for 48.27 percent, or 4.5 times higher than 2019 and 1.5 times than 2020.

By the end of Q3, 29 out of 83 ministries, branches and localities had completed the upgrade to Level 4, including six ministries and branches, namely the Ministries of Information and Communications (MIC) and Health (MOH), Social Insurance, Ministries of Construction (MOC), Industry and Trade (MOIT) and Science and Technology (MST).

Among localities, 23 cities and provinces now provide 100 percent of fourth-level public services to people and businesses.

ITA said some localities still have difficulty implementing the task because of a lack of money, fear of low efficiency, and low number of dossiers for online handling. This is because state agencies still are not encouraging people to use digital services, and people lack skills and devices to use the services.

ITA suggested that localities apply the same policy as HCM City. The city decided to cut 50 percent of service fees for people and businesses using online public services at Levels 3 and 4.

Van Anh

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/politics/29-ministries-provinces-have-4th-level-online-public-services-785151.html

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National Assembly Chair: Change the way of thinking about Covid-19 prevention and control

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National Assembly Chair Vuong Dinh Hue said voters expect decisions on two important issues – how to prevent and control the pandemic in the time to come and how to recover socio-economic development.

National Assembly Chair: Change the way of thinking about Covid-19 prevention and control

Chair of National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue

The master strategy on fighting Covid-19 was discussed at the latest Party Central Committee’s plenum. The National Assembly will continue discussing the issue and come to an agreement on the necessity to reform the way of thinking, said Party Committee Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.

The National Assembly will continue discussing the issue and come to an agreement on the necessity to reform the way of thinking, said Party Committee Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong.

National Assembly Chair Vuong Dinh Hue on October 21 said voters expect decisions on two important issues – how to prevent and control the pandemic in the time to come and how to recover socio-economic development.

The National Assembly Standing Committee has held meetings and seminars to find the best answers.

Hue repeated Trong’s speech at the fourth plenum that it’s necessary to change the way of thinking and put emphasis on safe, flexible and effective adaptation to the pandemic.

The prerequisites include vaccination coverage, strict application of 5K principles, and application of IT.

Regarding the overall socio-economic recovery and development program, Hue stressed the need to adjust fiscal and monetary policies to serve the program. As it’ll take time for preparation, the issue will not be approved at this session.

“The Standing Committee is considering asking National Assembly Deputies to organize one extraordinary session, possibly in December, to make a decision on the issue,” he said, explaining that it would be too late if waiting until the next regular meeting in May 2022.

He said that preventing and controlling the pandemic and ensuring social security should be seen as a “long-term resistance war”, so it’s necessary to prepare long-term resources.

The older aid packages with total value of VND100 trillion have been implemented well, including the VND38 trillion package from the Unemployment Insurance Fund.

The labor market is one of the sectors most seriously affected by Covid-19. The unemployment rate is the highest in the last 10 years (4.84 percent in cities, 3.04 percent in rural areas).

The pandemic affected only 12.8 million workers in Q2, but the figure rose to 30 million. Of this, 5 percent lost jobs, 32 percent of workers took temporary leave, 50 percent worked in rotation, and 80 percent reported income decreases.

According to the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), 2,580 children have become orphaned. Of these, 2,500 children lost either a father or mother, and 80 children lost both parents.

MOLISA Minister Dao Ngoc Dung said some international organizations have registered to sponsor the 80 children. His view is that Vietnam encourages support in kind and money, but doesn’t agree to the organizations’ sponsorship. It’s the country’s responsibility to take care of the orphaned children.

The National Fund for Vietnamese Children will provide support in cash to the children. Those who still have either a father or mother will receive VND5 million each, while others will get VND20 million. 

Thu Hang

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/politics/national-assembly-chair-change-the-way-of-thinking-about-covid-19-prevention-and-control-785164.html

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NA deputies: plan to increase salaries of civil servants needs to be submitted soon

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Though agreeing on a delay of wage reform, many National Assembly Deputies have asked the Government to prepare solutions to increase salaries for cadres, civil servants and public employees.

NA deputies: plan to increase salaries of civil servants needs to be submitted soon

State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc

Under Resolution 27 of the 12th National Assembly, the increase of wages would be implemented from early 2021. However, the plan has been delayed until 2022 because of the impact of Covid-19.

Under the financial mechanism designed to implement the wage reform program, 50 percent of the excessive amounts in local budget collections would be reserved for investment, while the other 50 percent would be used for the program. The amount totals VND600-700 trillion, almost enough for wage reform.

However, because of the pandemic, localities have had to use the money from several funds to spend on treatment and medical equipment procurement.

President Nguyen Xuan Phuc said though people are in difficulties and workers lack jobs, increasing wages for civil servants would be insignificant.

“I was among the first people who asked the Politburo, National Assembly and Government to delay the wage increase plan,” Phuc said.

He said that some National Assembly Deputies think if salaries cannot be raised immediately, there should be a policy to support civil servants and public employees.

Some deputies have suggested raising salaries for civil servants who retired before 1995 at first, because they have low salaries and difficult lives.

It’s also necessary to continue production and business, and prepare resources to continue the wage reform program, which will improve people’s lives and help to
prevent embezzlement risks.

“I think we cannot implement wage reform right now, but it’d be better to raise salaries for those whose salaries are too low. Second, we need to prepare the best solution to continue raising wages for cadres and civil servants in 2022 or 2023,” Phuc said.

He said that wage reform needs to go together with apparatus streamlining.

“The Government needs to submit a plan on raising salaries and reforming wage policy in the time to come,” he said.

Deputy National Assembly Chair Nguyen Khac Dinh said delaying the wage reform is a necessity after two years of low GDP growth rates. If the economy recovers next year and the state budget collections are good, wage reform would be put into discussion again at a suitable time.

Vu Thi Luu Mai, Deputy Chair of the National Assembly Finance and Budget Committee, while agreeing on the delay of wage reform, stressed that the program has been delayed two times, and it’s necessary to prepare resources to avoid another delay. 

Thu Hang

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/politics/na-deputies-plan-to-increase-salaries-of-civil-servants-needs-to-be-submitted-soon-785167.html

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