Updated on : Chủ Nhật, 19/09/2021 - 5:21 CH
Transcript: Government press briefing - September 2021
VGP – Below is the transcript of the Government's press briefing held on September 6, 2021 following the Cabinet meeting.

Vaccines; the role of the armed forces in helping localities combat the pandemic; facilitating the circulation of goods … are among issues that draw the attention of the media and were brought up during the Government’s regular press briefing for August 2021 (held in Hanoi on the afternoon of September 6th)

Speakers:

Deputy Minister of Health Tran Van Thuan

Deputy Minister of Education and Training Hoang Minh Son

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Minh Vu

Lieutenant General To An Xo, Chief of the Ministry of Public Security's Office

Minister – Chairman of the Government’s Office Tran Van Son

Major General Nguyen Van Duc, Head of the Propagation Department under the Ministry of National Defense

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong

Minister-Chairman of the Government Office Tran Van Son (standing) addresses the Government's press briefing, Ha Noi, September 6, 2021. Photo: VGP/Nhat Bac.

 Reporter: At the national virtual meeting on COVID-19 response (held in the afternoon of September 5th), Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh stated that once two shots of vaccines are given, we can start preparing for scenarios where we safely adapt to the pandemic. Can you please tell us your views on this issue?

I would like to ask the Ministry of Education and Training about the current situation with regards to teaching and learning in localities undergoing social distancing. What are the plans if the outbreaks are prolonged? Some localities have decided that lessons will be delivered online until the end of the first semester, but there are a lot of struggling families who could not afford smart devices (tablets or smartphones) … Could you please tell us what are possible solutions?

Deputy Minister of Health Tran Van Thuan: The Government and the Prime Minister has given directions on this issue; the Ministry of Health therefore shall soon discuss it with relevant organs. First and foremost, within the Ministry of Health, appropriate recommendations based on consultation with scientists and relevant departments shall be put forward. Opinions from different ministries, agencies and sectors shall be considered before these recommendations are submitted to the Government.

Deputy Minister of Education and Training Hoang Minh Son: Before the start of the new academic year, the Ministry of Education and Training has thoroughly discussed the year’s core issues with localities and educational institutions, so as to work out solutions to maintain the quality of education in the context of the ongoing pandemic. For this academic year, the Ministry of Education and Training has set a central task – which is to flexibly, actively and innovatively apply all solutions, technologies and tools to organize teaching and learning activities, thereby adapting to conditions of prolonged disease outbreaks with complicated developments.

Prior to the beginning of the new academic year, the Ministry also organized conferences at all levels of education to review the previous academic year. Subsequently, there have been directives from the Minister giving instructions for kindergartens, primary schools and secondary schools. The Minister has also issued directives instructing localities on how to organize teaching and learning activities, as well as school year opening ceremonies in conditions of disease outbreaks.

Deputy Minister of Education and Training Hoang Minh Son. Photo: VGP/Nhat Bac

The Ministry has advised the Prime Minister to issue Directive no. 24/CT-TTg on stepping up the implementation of tasks and solutions to organize teaching and learning activities in a manner that is safe and covers all of the content in the curriculum, while also ensuring the achievement of objectives related to education and training quality, thereby adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry has conducted preparations, in addition to instructing localities and educational institutions on how to take necessary measures so that teaching and learning activities can be carried out. There are also plans to step up these measures in the upcoming period.

The main content of the directive can be summed up as follows: In localities undergoing social distancing, different means of teaching and learning must be utilized. Electronic learning resources, teaching and learning through television programs, virtual classrooms, and distance learning … can all be utilized, in accordance with the motto: No matter how difficult the situation gets, we still strive to effectively teach and learn, taking advantage of all opportunities, making the most of our circumstances. In places where it is possible to organize in-person classes, then schools should proceed to do so. In places where that is not possible, then teaching and learning should be done online or through television programs.

At the moment, we can see that learning through virtual means could lead to many difficulties, especially when we organize virtual classes that feature real time interactions between teachers/lecturers and students. The benefit of this method is that students can interact with teachers in real time through the Internet. But this solution also come with huge drawbacks: there logistical difficulties, shortages in equipment and especially issues related to bandwidth, as large volumes of videos are being streamed for 20 million students. Even if just 10% of them participate in learning activities at once, it would mean that 2 million students are simultaneously interacting with teachers through the Internet, making it very hard to maintain good connection.

Therefore, the second option being promoted by the Ministry is to instruct localities and educational facilities to take advantage of recorded electronic lectures/lessons which can be downloaded through the Internet. The Ministry has prepared a large repository of learning resources on the Electronic Portal, which is connected to YouTube and the Digital Vietnamese knowledge system.

First graders in particular have access to an abundant number of videos to support their lessons in two subjects: Vietnamese and English. These lessons and videos are also broadcasted on different national television channels, specifically on VTV7, VTV1 and VTV2. On VTV7, videos for Vietnamese and English lessons are broadcasted on a daily basis in the afternoon from 14:00 to 15:30; on VTV1 and VTV2 there are videos for first grade Vietnamese lessons. In places where accessibility is an issue, teachers can send these learning resources along with instructional documents to the students through email or the Zalo messaging app … so that students could study by themselves at home.

In localities that does not have self-produced learning resources in the form of television programs, the videos broadcasted on the three abovementioned channels can be downloaded and then re-broadcasted on the local television channel. In places that lack the necessary conditions to do so, the Ministry of Education and Training has had documents instructing schools to facilitate and guide the students’ tele-learning efforts through the use of documents.

During times of disease outbreaks, we must make the most of our circumstances, so that students could have the best possible learning conditions. The moment the situation is controlled, especially when the Prime Minister’s directions on prioritizing vaccination for students and teachers, students would be allowed to come to school and learn in-person. By then, in places where the learning conditions of students during social distancing had been inadequate, schools and teachers need to provide support and conduct tutoring to maintain training quality.

The current situation requires the entire society to join hands; ministries and sectors need to provide support; likewise, localities need to take part in assisting students with regards to equipment, Internet connection and offering guidance to parents along with other family members so that they too could help students, especially those in lower year groups. No matter how difficult the situation becomes, we must always strive to teach and learn well. Some have asked the question, why not just delay the start of the academic year? We know that the pandemic could still be prolonged, waiting is therefore out of the question, so we must strive and make the most of our circumstances to effectively organize teaching and learning activities.

Reporter: Recently, the Military Medical Academy has completed the phase 3 trials for Nanocovax (Viet Nam’s self-produced vaccine candidate). In reality, many volunteers have taken part in the recent trials. I would like to ask: When will this experimental vaccine be ready for use in practice?

Deputy Minister of Health Tran Van Thuan: We invited people to participate in the trials with the spirit of volunteering for the cause of scientific research and the desire for vaccine self-sufficiency. At the moment, phase 3 trials for Nanocovax have not actually been completed, we are still only halfway through the phase 3 trials. Recently, on August 22nd, the Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Joint Stock Company - in partnership with the Military Medical Academy and the HCMC Pasteur Institute, have submitted their dossier to the National Ethics Council after having completed the phase 3 clinical implementation. Nevertheless, according to the recommendations of the Council, there remains some issues that need to be resolved.

We do hope to have access to domestically produced vaccines as soon as possible. However, vaccines are special products that have an impact on the entire community and multiple generations to come. The guideline of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Health is to carry out the procedures quickly, while also ensuring strict compliance, safety and effectiveness.

On the basis of the Council’s conclusions, there are 3 issues that the Company and research units need to elaborate upon. With regards to the vaccine’s safety, data on the safety of all trial subjects, who until now were given at least 1 shot, needs to be supplemented and updated. Clear explanations need to be given on the serious adverse events that have occurred up until this point.

With regards to the immunogenicity, it is necessary to supplement and update data in accordance with the Amended Proposal approved by the Ethics Council, which involves supplementing and updating the assessment of immunogenicity against new variants (for example, the Delta variant, or the Alpha variant …). The sample size to assess immunogenicity needs to follow the approved research proposal.

With regards to the vaccine’s efficacy, the company needs to collaborate with the research groups to analyze and discuss the relationship between the vaccine’s immunogenicity and the efficacy rate of at least 50% (following the World Health Organization’s recommendations).

As for the time to circulate the vaccine, the Ethics Council, the Scientific Council and the sponsors shall come to an agreement on this issue.

Deputy Minister of Health Tran Van Thuan. Photo: VGP/Nhat Bac

Reporter: Regarding the issue of coexisting with the pandemic, vaccines currently play a key role. I would like to ask; how many vaccine doses will arrive in our country in September and October?

Deputy Minister of Health Tran Van Thuan: At the moment, in our country, clinical trials are being conducted for 3 vaccine candidates: Nano Covax, COVIVAX and ARCT-154; by 2022, we shall be self-sufficient in terms of vaccines. It could be said that, under the Prime Minister’s resolute directions, the volume of vaccines arriving in Viet Nam shall be increasingly large. From September to October 2021, it is expected that more than 30 million vaccine doses shall arrive in Viet Nam.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Minh Vu: Access to vaccines is one of the top priorities of the Government to protect the community’s health in addition to achieving economic and production recovery. However, it should also be noted that difficulties concerning access to vaccines are present not only in Viet Nam; they are issues that occur globally. The Delta variant evolves complicatedly, so the demand for vaccines is high. In addition to that, there are inequalities between the wealthier countries and the poorer countries regarding access to vaccines. Most notably, the current global supply of vaccines could not yet meet the global demand. According to the latest statistics that I could grasp, the world needs 11 billion doses of vaccine to reach a state of (near) community immunity; and yet only 4.5 billion doses have been produced to date. Therefore, vaccine shortages happen to most countries, including Viet Nam.

Under the very resolute and timely directions of the Politburo, the Secretariat and the Prime Minister, Viet Nam has vigorously carried out vaccine diplomacy efforts. The Government has established the Government’s Working group on vaccine diplomacy to handle this task; with comrade Bui Thanh Son - Minister of Foreign Affairs as the head, and its members coming from different Ministries: Health, Public Security, Defense, Industry and Trade, Science and Technology. In the recent time periods, the Working group on vaccine diplomacy has urgently organized efforts to search for vaccines and mobilize them, taking advantage of bilateral and multilateral relations through international organizations (such as in the case of the COVAX mechanism) and promoting vaccine diplomacy through Viet Nam’s networks of representative bodies in foreign countries in order to access not only vaccines but also specific medicines and medical equipment as soon as possible.

Under the Prime Minister’s directions, the Working group on vaccine diplomacy has carried out its tasks, following 3 courses: Prioritize stepping up the fulfillment of commitments in vaccine contracts that the Government signed with large firms such as AstraZeneca and Pfizer; bring into play the relations with bilateral and multilateral partners in order to gain access to multiple sources of vaccines from different partner countries, by many different means such as aid through trade and loans. To ensure the long-term stability of the vaccine supply, the Working group also step up the signing of vaccine procurement contracts with large firms, while also promoting cooperation so that domestic production of vaccine can occur, making sure that the access to vaccines is stable.

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Minh Vu. Photo: VGP/Nhat Bac

So far, the results achieved has been fairly positive. Back in the start of August, we managed to mobilize about 16.6 million vaccine doses; by the end of the month, we had 33 million doses. It is expected that by the end of October, we could mobilize more than 30 million doses. In September, 17 million doses shall arrive in Viet Nam.

Regarding the specific medicines, we have also actively searched for multiple sources. The Ministry of Health along with the representative bodies in foreign countries have persuaded many governments so that millions of doses of specific medicines can be imported from countries that are advanced in this field, such as Japan, India or Switzerland.

The Working group also stepped up its efforts to gain access to medical equipment from many different sources. Until now, 17 countries, territories, overseas organizations and compatriots have provided aid in the form of medical equipment, the total value of which reaches millions of USD: 660 ventilators, 600 oxygen generators, 1000 tons of oxygen … have been transported to Viet Nam to aid the pandemic prevention work.

The vaccine diplomacy efforts in the past periods of time have been fruitful. However, we could see that in the context of the pandemic and the Delta variant’s complex evolution, the demand for vaccines and medical equipment remains very high. We would like to extend our sincere thanks to partners, international organizations, businesses, investors and overseas compatriots who have considerably supported the Government and the people regarding access to vaccines, specific medicines and medical equipment … Nonetheless, the demand remains high in the upcoming period, so we hope that we will continue to receive support from Viet Nam’s partners, international organizations, communities of overseas compatriots, businesses and investors – both within and outside our country so that more vaccines and specific medicines will arrive in Viet Nam to protect the community’s health.

Reporter: Implementing the Prime Minister’s directions, the Public Security branch and the Military have recently deployed their forces to HCMC and several southern provinces to help control the disease outbreaks. How does the Government assess the initial outcomes of implementing this guideline?

Lieutenant General To An Xo, Chief of the Ministry of Public Security Office: The realities leading to the participation of the military and the public security forces in the fight against the pandemic are evidently clear. Because the disease outbreaks were urgent situations, and on-the-ground forces could not meet the practical demands despite having tried their best, so the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of National Defense have deployed certain forces into these areas to help the people.

Since the beginning of the fourth COVID-19 wave, to fulfill the duties of maintaining social order as well as pandemic prevention and control, the public security forces in several southern localities have mobilized maximum manpower, with more than 100,000 officers joining the fight against the pandemic on all fronts. Many officers and units have worked relentlessly for the past 3 months, most of them worked 24/7.

Lieutenant General To An Xo, Chief of the Ministry of Public Security Office. Photo: VGP/Nhat Bac

Implementing the Prime Minister’s directions on supporting HCMC and certain southern provinces in the fight against the pandemic, the Ministry of Public Security has mobilized more than 5,000 officers, along with more than 2,500 cadets from public security schools to take part in fulfilling the duties of maintaining social order and helping the people in the fight against the pandemic; more than 600 medical staffs from the public security units have participated in the treatment of COVID-19 patients, both in HCMC’s hospitals, and in field hospitals of the public security forces. This morning (September 6th), more than 900 public security officers have been deployed to 3 provinces (Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Long An) to aid the pandemic prevention and control efforts.

The presence of the public security forces in social life can be observed daily or hourly. The effectiveness of this shall be assessed by the people, the Party committees and government organs at different levels. We always try our best and do all we can to prevent and control the pandemic, while also maintaining social order and safety, as social order and safety are highly important matters, especially when the disease outbreaks have been controlled. The deployment of public security and military forces into certain southern areas in this wave of outbreaks is highly necessary.

Minister – Chairman of the Government’s Office Tran Van Son: Recently, aside from the public security forces, the military has also deployed officers, medical staffs, mobile medical stations, medical equipment … the military has taken a lot of measures in certain southern provinces. I would like to invite Major General Nguyen Van Duc, Head of the Propagation Department under the Ministry of National Defense to elaborate upon this matter.

Major General Nguyen Van Duc, Head of the Propagation Department under the Ministry of National Defense. Photo: VGP/Nhat Bac.

Major General Nguyen Van Duc, Head of the Propagation Department: Actualizing the Party General Secretary’s call to action, together with the directions of the Politburo, the Secretariat, the State President, the Government and the Prime Minister, responding to the COVID-19 pandemic’s complex evolution in HCMC as well as in certain southern provinces, the Ministry of National Defense has mobilized more than 120,000 officers and members of self-defense militias in order to bolster support for HCMC and certain southern provinces with the highest determination and spirit of responsibility, thereby joining hands with the local level Party committees, government organs and various forces to fight the pandemic.

The Ministry of National Defense has also directed various forces to maintain thousands of inspection teams and checkpoints. Among them, there are about 1900 inspection teams and checkpoints placed along the land and sea borders to strictly monitor illegal entries into the country, playing a part in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Thousands of inspection teams and checkpoints are also maintained within the country for the purpose of organizing patrols and fulfilling duties, in order to aid the conducting of concentrated quarantine in locked down areas/areas to treat COVID-19 patients; as well as to ensure social order, contributing to the strict enforcement of social distancing measures, thereby limiting the number of people leaving their homes and spreading COVID-19 in HCMC and certain southern provinces.

The Ministry of National Defense has deployed 190 concentrated quarantine facilities at different units, many barracks have provided food and shelter for about 290,000 people, thousands of doctors and technicians were timely mobilized, 600 tons of medical supplies and equipment along with medicines were mobilized to aid HCMC and certain southern provinces. Eleven field hospitals for infectious diseases and treatment centers for COVID-19 patients were established with the scale reaching more than 6000 beds, in order to alleviate the pressure exerted on the local healthcare system. Over 600 military medical teams were deployed to wards and communes in HCMC as well as in adjacent localities. In HCMC alone, 475 military medical teams were dispatched to join the medical stations of the City’s 312 wards and communes.  8 vaccine storage facilities located in the 7 military regions along with Hanoi Capital High Command were organized; not only that, 112 tons of vaccines were transported and distributed, playing a part in accelerating the national vaccination campaign against COVID-19 in the recent time periods.

With the spirit of proactively approaching the people to provide assistance, the Ministry of National Defense has organized hundreds of supplementary military medical teams to carry out vaccination, along with emergency resuscitation teams and mobile military medical teams to conduct tests, as well as to receive and treat tens of thousands of patients. The military arranged the delivery of thousands of tons of agricultural products, foodstuffs, groceries and essential goods to every single household.

Recently, netizens have created many fun paintings that show soldiers buying groceries on behalf of the people or helping the people with essential tasks … This is the people’s acknowledgement of the soldier’s substantive actions.

In the process of fulfilling their missions, among the 120,000 officers and self-defense militia members who participated in the pandemic prevention and control efforts, many comrades could not return home as they were on duty - even though their loved ones may have passed away, or their wives and children may have contracted diseases. Many military doctors had been living in difficult circumstances with small children; and yet, right when they had just completed their duties to support Bac Ninh, Bac Giang and Hai Duong, they immediately continued to advance to HCMC and certain southern provinces. Not a single comrade complained or tried to avoid their duties. Many comrades in the process of aiding the fight against the pandemic was infected with the disease, and there were even sacrifices. This shows the determination and the sense of responsibility displayed by soldiers when it comes to protecting the health and lives of the people in the most difficult moments.

In the upcoming period, the Central Military Commission and the Ministry of National Defense is determined to step up training tasks, ensure combat readiness, effectively fulfill military and national defense duties, firmly grasp and handle situations, thereby avoiding being caught off guard. Regarding the duty to participate in the fight against the pandemic, the Steering Committee for COVID-19 response at all levels in the entire army have formulated specific plans, even plans that are larger in scope and involve measures at an earlier stage: The military may take part in fighting the pandemic, not only in HCMC and certain southern provinces; forces may also be deployed in other areas of the country should other outbreaks occur.

Having identified this as a combatting duty in peacetime, and a central political task of the army at the moment, this afternoon the Ministry of National Defense’s Steering Committee for COVID-19 response has just had a meeting on the fulfillment of several tasks in the upcoming period. In the near future, the military shall continue to maintain and supplement forces, vehicles and equipment to participate in the fight against the pandemic in HCMC and certain southern provinces with the highest determination, sense of responsibility and capabilities. With regards to forces that join this fight, we shall draw lessons from our experiences as we go along, so that appropriate measures can be taken in the upcoming period.

Mobile medical stations shall continue to be deployed, forces shall be organized to visit and conduct health check-ups for COVID-19 patients on a regular basis, military medical forces in green zones shall be diverted to further support red zones; COVID-19 patients at the 11 field hospitals located in the military’s treatment areas shall continue to be treated with the motto being: urgently receive patients, considerately conduct treatment, firmly grasp the number of patients in severe conditions that need to be transferred to higher tier hospitals and report them to the Steering Committee so that it can issue appropriate directions and take appropriate treatment measures.

The military shall continue to focus on taking part in the COVID-19 checkpoints; propagate and instruct the people to carry out anti-pandemic measures; provide assistance to the people, ensure the sufficient supply of food stuffs, groceries, medicines and other essential goods in quarantined areas and areas undergoing social distancing.

The Ministry of National Defense has also directed its units to continue manufacturing and purchasing necessary medical supplies and equipment, in order to aid the field hospitals for infectious diseases and treatment centers as timely and effective as possible in the upcoming time period.

Reporter: With regards to the circulation of goods, even though the Government has recently issued a lot of directions, there are still many obstacles concerning transportation and circulation, as each province deals with this matter in a different way. I would like to ask, what solutions does the Government have in the upcoming days to radically handle this issue?

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong: Regarding the circulation of goods, the Prime Minister and the Government’s leaders have had resolute and recurring directions. According to the Prime Minister’s direction, all goods are allowed to circulate (except for prohibited goods). Together with Ministry of Industry and Trade, we have implemented this direction.

Secondly, vehicles are allowed to circulate on all routes. With regards to vehicles that have been assigned QR codes by the Ministry of Transport, it has been agreed that they shall be able to go through checkpoints without being inspected; nor shall they be required to take rapid COVID tests. This is the Prime Minister’s recurring directions; we have fully conveyed this to localities.

Following the Prime Minister’s directions, relevant ministries and branches have established the Special Working Group stationed in the southern region. The Ministry of Transport has also formed a Special Working Group there with a Deputy Minister as the standing member, and the Group works with the 19 provinces/cities in the southern region where the situation concerning the pandemic is fairly serious. Aside from advising the Government and the Prime Minister on the regular direction of goods circulation in localities and sectors to ensure that circulation is as smooth as possible, the Ministry of Transport has organized weekly briefings with the localities. In some weeks, 3 to 4 briefings were held with the local Departments of Transport and local leaders in order to monitor the situation regarding the circulation of goods. Through these briefings, we discovered that certain localities, because they were somewhat hasty when it comes to controlling the outbreaks and monitoring drivers/vehicles, had issued regulations that did not fully uphold the directions on the smooth circulation of goods and vehicles. We have requested that these regulations be abolished.

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong. Photo: VGP/Nhat Bac.

Our first solution, with the directions from the Government’s leaders as the basis, is to regularly coordinate with localities in monitoring and urging the implementation process. If obstacles arise, or if inappropriate regulations are issued, we shall request that they be abolished to ensure that circulation is smooth.

Secondly, all goods are allowed to circulate (not just “essential” ones as we have done way with the term “essential” in the regulations), and (only) prohibited goods are banned from being transported. The most important thing is to control the spread of the disease through drivers. It is necessary to closely coordinate with the Ministry of Health, and especially the localities in order to conduct medical monitoring of drivers, ensuring that circulation is as unobstructed as possible, preventing infections while also maintain proper circulation of goods at the same time.

The Ministry of Transport has recently issued 5 manuals for 5 specialized fields: Aviation, railway, waterway, inland waterway and roads. All of these manuals include specific instructions for the localities to follow in the process of organizing transportation and ensuring the circulation of goods.

It is vital to bring into play all the different means of transport with different advantages and disadvantages. For example, we bring into play riverway/inland waterway transport to create channels for goods to be transported/circulated. Apart from roads, railway transportation is also promoted, even when essential goods and supplies are transported. Those are the solutions we have put forward and are implementing at the moment.

In our view, there have been a lot of improvements regarding the circulation of goods; there is close coordination between the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Ministry of Transport and especially the localities. At present, it is necessary to continue stepping up this circulation./.

Translated by Quy An

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