Viet Nam persists in its drastic and responsive vaccine diplomacy

Update: 16:09 | 30/08/2021
Vaccine diplomacy is a spearhead, an important front to implement the vaccine strategy set by the Government in order to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and bring the country back to a “new normal”.
Quyết liệt, bài bản như ngoại giao vaccine
Vaccine diplomacy is a very crucial part of the vaccine strategy.

A series of good news

On August 23, the Vietnamese people were happy with a series of good news.

In a phone call with Viet Nam’s State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel affirmed that from now to the end of this year, Cuba would provide 10 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and send experts to transfer vaccine production technology to Viet Nam.

Earlier, Viet Nam received in Ha Noi on August 23 a batch of 501,600 doses of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine donated by the Polish Government. Poland also announced transferring 3 million doses of vaccine and donating 8 tons of essential medical equipment worth about 4 million USD to Viet Nam.

On the same day, the Vietnamese Ministry of Defence received 200,000 doses of Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccines and 201,600 single-use syringes donated by their Chinese counterpart.

In August only, many countries and partners continuously announced to share COVID-19 vaccines with Viet Nam, such as the UK (415,000 doses), France (more than 670,000 doses) and the Czech Republic (donating 250,000 doses and transferring 500,000 doses).

Most recently, Viet Nam received 1 million doses from the US (on August 25) brought by the US Vice President Kamala Harris during her visit to Viet Nam.

A batch of 400.000 doses of vaccine from Australia has arrived in Ha Noi on August 27, the first batch among 1.5 million vaccine doses committed by the Australian Government to give to Vietnamese people.

In the context of global vaccine scarcity, those noble acts of kindness of international friends and partners for Viet Nam result from the process of searching, lobbying, promoting, negotiating by the Government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the relevant agencies and more than 90 Vietnamese missions abroad, in a joint effort called "vaccine diplomacy".

The most effective method

According to Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Minh Vu, "vaccine diplomacy" is essentially taking advantage of bilateral and multilateral relationships through international organizations, countries and corporations to increase Viet Nam’s access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Since the global outbreak of the COVID-19, the Party Central Committee’s Politburo and Secretariat and the Government have taken comprehensive measures to respond to the pandemic, including the adoption of a vaccine strategy.

Vaccine diplomacy is a very crucial part of the vaccine strategy as it is not only an urgent but also long-term solution and the most effective path to secure enough vaccines for Vietnamese people.

Australian and Vietnamese officials celebrate the first delivery of 403,000 COVID-19 AstraZeneca doses from Australia
Australian and Vietnamese officials celebrate the first delivery of 403,000 COVID-19 AstraZeneca doses from Australia on August 27.

The vaccine strategy and “vaccine diplomacy” have been drastically underway at all levels, especially high level. The General Secretary, State President, Chairman of the National Assembly, especially the Government and Prime Minister have paid attention, directed and directly participated, through bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, including all forms of telephone conversation, writing letters to leaders of countries and partners, with an aim to secure supply of foreign-made COVID-19 vaccines.

The Prime Minister has engaged the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and relevant ministries and agencies as well as more than 90 Vietnamese missions overseas in the concerted effort.

Up to now, senior leaders, leaders of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Health, and Vietnamese ambassadors abroad have carried out hundreds of meetings and contacts to discuss getting access to various vaccine sources.

In addition, Viet Nam also actively joins in the vaccine diplomacy in the multilateral channels, appealing for solutions to the inequality in vaccine access and vaccine scarcity. Vietnam has also contributed $500,000 to the global vaccine mechanism COVAX.

We also promote cooperation in transferring technology of vaccine production to ensure a stable and long-term vaccine supply.

Finding opportunities in difficulty

In the first six months of 2021, the world has only produced 4.5 billion doses of vaccine, compared with the 10 billion doses needed to achieve herd immunity.

Meanwhile, the danger of Delta strain other new variants (Lambda) continues to shrink the vaccine sources, pushing countries to stock up on vaccines for booster shots, or a third injection for their people.

In Viet Nam, with its increasingly complex evolution of the fourth wave of COVID-19 pandemic, especially in Ho Chi Minh City and some of the southern cities, the need for vaccines becomes more urgent than ever.

Viet Nam aims to procure 150 million doses of vaccines to cover 70 percent of its population this year. However, with limited vaccine sources, currently, just over 19 million Vietnamese people have been inoculated.

According to the Assistant to the Foreign Minister cum Director-General of the Department of Economic Affairs Nguyen Minh Hang, not only Viet Nam but all countries, especially the developing countries, are facing vaccine scarcity. We have been very proactive in negotiating to get access to various vaccine sources, but reaching an agreement does not mean that vaccine will be transferred on time.

In addition, there are certain principles and practices about the vaccine we have to follow, such as the export of vaccines must be decided by the government or the foreign ministry, not by businesses.

However, more than 90 Vietnamese missions overseas have done their research and found out that Viet Nam still has the opportunity to negotiate with countries and partners that have the vaccine surplus due to the high rate of inoculation while the vaccine has its own expiry date.

Ngoại giao vaccine: Thúc đẩy các nước nhượng lại vaccine Covid-19
Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh chaired the meeting with the Government’s working group on vaccine diplomacy.

Accelerating with more drastic efforts

On July 29, in his appeal to Vietnamese people at home and abroad, Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong has urged the whole Party, army, and Vietnamese people at home and overseas to stay united and to be more resolute and determined, stay on high vigilance, and mobilize all possible resources to fight the pandemic creatively and efficiently.

At the first session of the 15th National Assembly (NA), the Resolution on COVID-19 prevention and control was approved, creating a legal foundation for the Government and Prime Minister to more actively and flexibly direct the pandemic fight.

The Government and the Prime Minister, in the spirit of more efforts and determination, have set the goal of accelerating the implementation of vaccine diplomacy in a more effective and drastic manner in the future.

On August 13, the Government established a working group on vaccine diplomacy led by Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son. The working group has the tasks of mobilizing international partners and organizations to continue providing vaccine aid, and promoting cooperation in the production and technology transfer of vaccines, drugs and medical products for Viet Nam as soon as possible.

At a meeting with the working group on August 24, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh affirmed that vaccine diplomacy was the "front" that decided the success of vaccine strategy of the Government.

At the first meeting of the working group, Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son - Head of the working group, emphasized that the motto of vaccine diplomacy is "proactively moving forward" and closely, creatively and effectively coordinating.

In the most recent Dispatch dated on August 23 to intensify the implementation of COVID-19 prevention and control measures, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh called for stepping up “vaccine diplomacy” to acquire vaccines and drugs as soon and as much as possible while creating the most favorable conditions for research, transfer of production technology, and domestic production of vaccines.

With relevant policy, high determination, proactive, drastic and accelerated implementation of vaccine diplomacy by the Party, Government, ministries, agencies, and Vietnamese missions overseas, it is strongly believed that Viet Nam will have more sources of vaccine, medical equipment, and treatment drugs in the coming time.

This valuable supply will meet people's desires, help protect their and health and repel the epidemic, gradually restore the economy and bring everything back to a “New Normal”.

Until now, Viet Nam has received over 24 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Many countries and partners have committed to or consider providing more vaccines for Viet Nam in the coming time.

Viet Nam has also received more than 6,368,000 test kits, approximately 600,000 masks, about 600 oxygen generators, 300 oxygen compressors, 100 tons of liquid oxygen, 30 ventilators and 77 vaccine storage refrigerators and etc. from many countries, international organizations as well as our compatriots abroad to support the pandemic prevention and treatment of patients.

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Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh chaired a meeting on COVID-19 vaccine diplomacy