Once left behind in vaccine coverage, Vietnam managed to become the 53rd country in the world achieving the goal of covering basic doses of COVID-19 vaccine for 70 per cent of its population after just a few months.
As of mid-August, Vietnam ranked 10th out of 11 Southeast Asian member states in terms of vaccination coverage in which only 7.5 percent of Vietnamese adult population had been partially vaccinated.
The fourth wave of COVID-19 resurgence which broke out since late April quickly spread to 62 out of 63 provinces and cities in Vietnam, posing serious impacts on the Southeast Asian nation.
Vietnam which was hailed as a rare COVID-19 success story in the fight against COVID-19 in 2020, slipped to bottom on the Nikkei COVID-19 recovery index on infection management, vaccine rollouts and social mobility. In addition, the gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 6.17% in the third quarter of 2021 from a year earlier as pandemic restrictions hit hard.
With the Delta variant firmly established, the economy strangled by strict social distancing orders, and the health system approaching capacity, Prime Minister Pham Minh set up a Government’s working group led by Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son.
The body is in charge of a mission to bring home as many vaccine doses as fast and as soon as possible to vaccinate about 75 million adults. It figured out three goals including urging manufacturers to deliver vaccine on schedules, seeking vaccine donation from foreign countries and COVAX, and promoting transfer of vaccine production technology.
Achieving herd immunity ahead of schedule
Thanks to active campaigns and lobbying activities, as of December 26, Vietnam received about 183 million doses of vaccines including 89 million doses from COVAX Facility (45.2 million), bilateral donation (over 20.5 million), and business contribution (about 20 million). In addition, the Government also encouraged AstraZeneca and Pfizer to hand over adequate vaccines under the reached agreements.
As of December 21, Vietnam has basically achieved herd immunity against Coronavirus with over 82 percent of the population aged from 18 having two doses of Covid-19 vaccines.
More importantly, high vaccination rate allowed the Government to switch away from Zero COVID-19 policy to safe and flexible adaptation to the pandemic from October 11 by introduction of Resolution No. 128.
Thanks to the Resolution, the economy began to bounced back with GDP expanding 5.22 percent in the last quarter of 2021.
The Government has decided to resume regular international passenger flights next year in a bid to boost economic recovery.
Accordingly, first flights will be resumed to and from highly safe countries and territories such as Beijing/Guangzhou (China), Tokyo (Japan), Seoul (the Republic of Korea), Taiwan, Bangkok (Thailand), Singapore, Vientiane (Laos), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), San Francisco/Los Angeles (the United States).
Vietnam’s great efforts in vaccine diplomacy helped obtain commitments for over 100 million vaccine doses in 2021, which allowed it to launch its biggest ever vaccination campaign.
Vaccine diplomacy isn’t just about calling international partners and organizations to continue providing vaccine aid, but also about seeking vaccine purchases and negotiating for vaccine production technology transfer.