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Apr 08, 2022 / 19:33

Vietnam’s Covid-19 infections surpass 10 million

Vietnam’s quick vaccination campaign has minimized fatalities, enabling the country to conduct recovery plans since October 2021.

As of April 7, Vietnam recorded 10,070,692 people infected with Covid-19, or approximately 100,000 infections per one million residents, including more than 42,000 deaths or 0.4% of the total cases.

 A doctor working in Hanoi Covid-19 Hospital. Photo: Duy Khanh/ The Hanoi Times

The number of daily cases dropped to around 55,000 over the past week from 150,000 at the peak which fell in early March, according to the Ministry of Health.

In the past three weeks, the new cases were reported in some 10-15 cities and provinces instead of all 63 localities weeks ago. Hanoi, the most affected area over the past few months, confirmed some 3,000 cases/day in the past consecutive days, equivalent to one tenth of the previous statistics.

So far, 84% of the cases have recovered.

The ministry said the pandemic has been contained nationwide, adding that all statistics regarding total infections, critical cases, and fatalities plunged over the past three weeks.

Vietnam faced widespread Covid-19 in the first three weeks of March due to Omicron that was first detected in the country in December 2021. According to the ministry, the majority of the infections in Vietnam since then are with the Omicron variant.

 International donors gathered in Hanoi in April 2021 - the first days COVAX vaccines arrive in Vietnam. Photo: WHO/UNICEF

Vaccination – key to new normal

Despite the high rate of infections, Vietnam suffers low fatalities thanks to the high vaccination rate. As of April 7, more than 207 million vaccine doses were administered, including a large number of booster shots. Children aged 12-17 are fully vaccinated while those of the 5-11 age group will be inoculated in the next few days.

Vietnam began the vaccination campaign on March 8, 2021. To date, it ranks among few countries with the highest vaccination rate. Its high vaccination campaign enabled the country to reopen the economy in October 2021 after few months of Covid-19 restrictions. Notably, it opened borders to international tourists from March 15, 2022. The reopening has enabled Vietnam to reach mutual recognition of vaccine passports with 19 countries and it has offered visa waiver to visitors from 13 countries.  

As of mid-August 2021, Vietnam had the second lowest Covid-19 vaccine coverage in Southeast Asia, with only 7.5% of adults having received at least one dose, five months later, that rate jumped to nearly 100%, with 90% fully vaccinated, according to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

In just five months starting in mid-August, Vietnam turned its Covid-19 vaccination drive around. The entire country was racing against the clock to obtain and administer as many vaccine doses as possible while the Delta-led fourth Covid-19 wave was ravaging the economy and straining the health system.

When vaccines reached an airport in Vietnam, “there was no time for them to sit in storage,” says Dr Pham Quang Thai, Head of the Expanded Program of Immunization in the North under the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology. “It took only a few days for vaccines to reach provinces where they were used up in an instant.”

With support from COVAX, the global vaccine sharing scheme led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, WHO, and UNICEF, the health sector has been administering Covid-19 vaccines day and night, through public holidays and even during the Lunar New Year.

At the peak of Vietnam’s vaccination drive, there were times when more than 2.7 million doses were administered in a single day (on February 16, 2022), statistics by the health ministry showed.

 Vietnam's Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and Aurélia Nguyen, Managing Director of the COVAX Facility at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance in Paris on Nov 3.

Commenting on Vietnam’s vaccination drive, Aurélia Nguyen, Managing Director of the COVAX Facility at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which manages the COVAX Facility and the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC), and leads on procurement and delivery at scale for COVAX, said Vietnam has excelled at its vaccination drive, achieving widespread coverage among the elderly, the most at-risk and the wider population groups.

This milestone was made possible through initiatives such as improvised immunization points across the country, which saw a big proportion of the population reached within a five-month period, Aurélia Nguyen said in a statement released on April 1, 2022 that marked one year after the first vaccine doses arrived in Vietnam through COVAX. “Over the last year, Vietnam has implemented strategies that have been crucial in ensuring success in vaccine distribution and I would like to congratulate the people of Vietnam and the Ministry of Health for their commitment to vaccine equity,” the Vietnam News Agency reported.

So far, COVAX has supplied about 64 million vaccine doses to the country, accounting for nearly one third of the total vaccines Vietnam has received, through both donations and bilateral contracts.

Regarding donors, the US becomes the biggest with more than 38 million doses delivered to Vietnam.