How Vietnam Emerged as a Model in Fighting Coronavirus

 

One standout country within Luohan Academy's Global Pandemic Economy Tracker (PET) is Vietnam. Their excellent performance shows in epidemic prevention and economic recovery. While at first, many doubted their capacity to contain and treat the virus properly due to the low number of hospital beds. Their quick, accurate and strict response has led to no community outbreaks in a country with a population close to 100 million citizens. But that's not all. As of July 10, the total number of confirmed cases in Vietnam is only 369, with no deaths; there are only four confirmed cases per million people, the lowest among all countries with a population of more than 10 million.

Although it was one of the firth countries to report coronavirus confirmed cases, their performance throughout the pandemic has been remarkable, as shown in the PET.  Vietnams economy has three characteristics.  First, their early economic contraction was relatively small, and the lowest point of economic activity was the only 15 percent less than before the outbreak. This was mainly because of early and rapid control measures, starting in early January, Vietnam began screening passengers from Wuhan China.

Second, Vietnam's economic contraction time was shorter. The duration of Vietnam's stay below the 90 percent threshold of relative economic activity was about three weeks. This was due to their quick early response and strong PSA campaigns and continued targeted quarantines. In contrast, this indicator is six weeks in China and 6.5 weeks in the United States, respectively.

Finally, their recovery is fast and steady without hiccups from minor virus outbreaks. Since mid-May, Vietnam's economic activity level has been equivalent to that before the epidemic. With the "first-mover advantage" of being one of the first countries that have controlled the outbreak, Vietnam seized new opportunities for economic development.

In the context of the global recession brought by the COVID-19, according to the statistics of the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, Vietnam achieved a positive GDP growth of 0.36% in the second quarter and 1.81% in the first half of the year. Although it was the lowest record in the past decade, it is significantly better than the other ASEAN countries. At the same time, Vietnam successfully held the 36th ASEAN Summit and established a new Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation with Italy. The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA), which will take effect on August 1, 2020, plans to reduce or eliminate 99% of the tariffs on goods trade, which will further boost the Vietnamese economy.

Since Vietnam shares a border with China's Yunnan and Guangxi provinces border, before the outbreak of COVID-19, Vietnam received about 500,000 Chinese tourists every month, which brought a considerable risk of exposure to the virus. At the same time, Vietnam's medical capacity is limited.  The number of beds per 10,000 people is only around 25, one-fifth of that of South Korea.

The first COVID-19 patient was diagnosed in Ho Chi Minh City on January 23, and Vietnam became the fifth country with a confirmed COVID-19 case. By February 13, the number of confirmed cases in Vietnam increased to 16, including a major infection involving seven people in a family. Despite this, there have been no community outbreaks in Vietnam so far. As the first country declared by the WHO to control the SARS epidemic in 2003, one reason why that Vietnam is was able to do well in controlling the coronavirus is because of its rapid precautionary measures.   On January 22, the Ministry of Health of Vietnam issued the "New Pneumonia Prevention and Control Plan" to prepare for the coming new pneumonia.

On February 1, the country declared a state of epidemic prevention. The "precision" lies in Vietnam's strict import prevention of epidemic areas. On January 24, Vietnam canceled flights to and from Wuhan. Then with the development of the epidemic, it soon carried out limits towards passengers and flights from China, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Italy, and other countries. "Strict" is reflected in the rigorous implementation of policies. For example, for those who are super-spreaders and spread the virus while not wearing masks, the maximum penalty is 12 years in jail. In the event of a family infection, the village where the family is located is strictly quarantined for about three weeks.

While many of these measures may be seen as drastic, the PET tracker shows that strict control of the early spread of the virus can not only largely reduces the impact of the virus from a public health aspect, but also protects the economy from major shocks.

*Note: All data by July 5, 2020

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