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Insights from Indian journalist on the success of Vietnam in the fight against COVID-19

14:21 | 04/07/2020

A recent article in The Times of India explained the reasons why Vietnam can manage both the COVID-19 and the economy during the pandemic.

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insights from indian journalist on the success of vietnam in the fight against covid 19
Vietnam's success is reflected in The Times of India.

Recently, Renuka Bisht, a Ph.D. scholar from the University of Florida wrote an article in The Times of India, the most nationally well-known newspaper in India, discussing the reason why Vietnam is so successful in fighting with the COVID-19 pandemic. "It should turn country after country green with jealousy. Vietnam has managed to have a ‘good’ pandemic. The country with a population of 97 million and an active border with China, has seen only 355 confirmed coronavirus cases and not a single recorded death", she started.

Good management is the key

From her professional observation, Vietnam now is among very few countries being back to the new normal with huge opportunities for "greater investments as multinationals look to rejig their supply chains". Since the lockdown was less disruptive to businesses in Vietnam by the plan, especially with the timely and effective support from the government "allowing many non-retail companies and factories to operate through it". It was also noted that, before the lockdown, Vietnam was in another "sweet spot of having gained the most export market share in Asia over the last five years, thanks to which it was clipping along at a nice 7% growth".

While other economies are set to contract this year, ADB is forecasting a GDP growth of 4.1% in Vietnam. HSBC Bank has dubbed the country “Pho’nomenal Vietnam”, the reference to its iconic noodle soup underlining how well it has managed both the COVID-19 pandemic and the economy. "Good management is the key here", said Bisht. "It is not like Vietnam doesn’t have notable vulnerabilities. Or that good fortune just landed in its lap. The real learning is how it has minimized weaknesses and maximized strengths". 

insights from indian journalist on the success of vietnam in the fight against covid 19
A sense of national pride helps Vietnam to succeed in the coronavirus fighting. Photo: Times of India/Uday Deb

No compromise in the fight against COVID-19 with the focus on preparation and prevention

Bisht firstly started by considering the COVID battle. According to her, the medical facilities in Vietnam are less advanced than the other countries in the region; therefore, the worst scenario was that if the infection numbers had grown into hundreds of thousands, then its healthcare system would also have struggled. She also made a comparison in the density of doctors among India, Brazil, and the U.S and noticed that there is a big gap for Vietnam with terms of the number of medical staff. However, "preparation and prevention" has helped Vietnam to be the champion notwithstanding its shortage of resources.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc declared war on coronavirus in January by mobilizing the whole political and administrative system of the country, including the involvement of the police, military, and the state’s vast surveillance apparatus to meticulously track and trace all infections, "often down to their second and third-hand contacts, and then put them in institutional quarantine, which was not fancy but well-organized and strictly enforced". More importantly, what made the author surprised is "a sense of national pride of Vietnamese citizens about how their country has outperformed the world in controlling COVID". 

insights from indian journalist on the success of vietnam in the fight against covid 19
Vietnam fights against COVID-19 with the focus on preparation and prevention. Photo: BBC

Economic recovery to be critical momentum for the country moving forward

By having a closer look at the management of the economy of the Vietnamese Government, Bisht sees that Vietnam "is using the stimulus opportunity to address some of the infrastructure shortfalls that limit the integration of domestic firms into the global value chain" with a number of major projects being speeding up, "from new metro lines to expressways", she added. According to the author, Vietnam had a big improvement when climbing from 64 to 39 in the World Bank Logistics Performance Index between 2016-2018, which shows how efficiently countries move goods across and within borders". And the ratification of the FTA between the EU and Vietnam is far more "a measure of how unusually Vietnam has kept juggling many balls that this is the first FTA the world is seeing since the outbreak of the pandemic". Although challenges still remain, for instance, as economist Trinh Nguyen emphasizes, that "the FTA requires the entire supply chain to be within the two markets to qualify for zero duties"; however, Vietnam has overcome successfully with its approaches of flexibility and determination with the long-term strategy.

insights from indian journalist on the success of vietnam in the fight against covid 19
Positive comments of the readers for the success of Vietnam. Screenshot of the Times of India

From her viewpoint, Renuka Bisht believes that there are many valuable lessons learned that other countries can have from the case study of the success of Vietnam during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic. And this can be applied specifically into her own country, India.

According to the most updated announcement (July 04) by Worlddometters, India has so far reported 649.889 COVID-19 cases, with 18.669 deaths and 394.319 recovered cases.

insights from indian journalist on the success of vietnam in the fight against covid 19
COVID-19 cases in India. Source: worldometers
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Tony Nguyen