Việt Nam to prepare two COVID prevention scenarios

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Kindergarten students in Hà Nội return to school on Thursday. The Ministry of Health currently evaluates the COVID pandemic in Việt Nam as being under control. — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has proposed two scenarios for COVID-19 prevention and control in the future: let the coronavirus become endemic or prepare necessary prevention methods to respond to the virus’ evolution.

The MOH currently evaluates the COVID pandemic in Việt Nam as being under control. This comes after a surge in cases in the first three weeks of March due to the Omicron variant.

The number of daily cases has then seen a sharp downturn since late March, dropping 94.1 per cent from the peak recorded on March 12.

“Fighting the pandemic is not the responsibility of a city, nor a country, but the world,” said Prof. Phan Trọng Lân, director of the General Department of Preventive Medicine.

“According to scientific research conducted by the WHO, we have prepared two COVID prevention scenarios,” he said.

The first scenario hypothesises that the current Omicron variant will still dominate, but the virus’ lethality will decrease. Along with the immunity from the vaccines and recovered COVID patients, the number of severe cases and deaths will fall.

“With the first scenario, we can move to a new normal situation where COVID-19 is endemic,” said Lân.

“Every individual will know their risks, and if prevention methods are done right, life will eventually go back to normal. For this scenario, we focus on high-risk patients, such as the elderly and people with preexisting medical conditions,” he said.

In the second scenario, the MOH hypothesises that the SARS-CoV-2 virus will evolve and a new dangerous variant will emerge and dominate. This variant might evade protection from vaccines, leading to more cases and eventually more severe cases.

“For the second scenario, we will reuse past prevention protocols as before,” he said.

“We currently have tools such as vaccines and treatment drugs to support the prevention, but these need to be updated to combat the evolution of the virus. High-risk individuals must be vaccinated and boosted to protect them from the virus.”

Việt Nam has recorded more than 10 million COVID-19 cases since the disease emerged in early 2020. The pandemic has claimed 42,878 lives, but the monthly death rate has fallen from 0.13 per cent in February to 0.03 per cent in March.

Elsewhere, many neighbouring countries have suggested criteria to consider COVID-19 as endemic. Indonesia insisted on a 5 per cent hospitalisation rate and a 1 per cent positive rate relative to the population for COVID to be considered endemic.

Thailand will lift COVID testing requirements and obligatory mask mandates (except for current COVID patients) if the mortality rate does not exceed 0.1 per cent.

The WHO’s analysis suggested that COVID-19 will not disappear entirely but become endemic.

The organisation urges member countries to turn from hardline pandemic prevention methods to sustainable management of COVID-19. — VNS

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