In the relentless efforts to control the epidemic, vaccine diplomacy has become a key factor.
After nearly two years since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, vaccines are still the most important anti-epidemic weapon.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has set a target of giving vaccinations against Covid-19 for at least 40% of the world population by the end of 2021 and 70% by mid-2022.
In the current situation of vaccine distribution, plus the appearance of dangerous virus strains, many countries with low vaccination rates are suffering from new outbreaks.
In Vietnam, during the 4th outbreak, over 810,000 infection cases have been recorded, ranking 43rd out of 223 countries and territories.
In the relentless efforts to control the epidemic, vaccine diplomacy has become a key factor. It not only helps Vietnam access and import vaccines, but also opens up opportunities for technology transfer and production of vaccine in the country, creating the most sustainable vaccine supply for Vietnam.
Vaccine diplomacy is essentially taking advantage of bilateral and multilateral relationships through international organizations, countries and corporations to increase Vietnamese people's access to vaccines.
When the pandemic broke out, the Politburo, the Secretariat of the Party Central Committee and the Government of Vietnam gave overall directions on epidemic prevention and control, including the implementation of the vaccine strategy: access to vaccine sources, strengthening of international cooperation in technology transfer and vaccine production to ensure safe and effective vaccination for the people.
The Party General Secretary, State President, Prime Minister, and the National Assembly Chairman have paid great attention to, directed and participated in bilateral and multilateral diplomatic activities in order to get vaccines for the people.
In hundreds of phone calls and meetings with foreign partners and leaders, Vietnamese leaders always discussed cooperation on vaccine supply.
The common message conveyed by Vietnamese leaders is that Vietnam expects other countries to create favorable conditions for its access to vaccine sources as well as technology to produce vaccines against Covid-19.
In the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, the COVAX Facility mechanism is one of the best solutions to ensure the rapid and equitable deployment of safe and effective vaccines to all countries around the world.
As a member of COVAX, in December 2020, Vietnam submitted a dossier to propose vaccine support. On that basis, COVAX has allocated vaccines and committed to provide Vietnam with vaccines to immunize 20% of the population, equivalent to nearly 39 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine.
Explaining to the National Assembly on July 25, 2021 Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long said that following the conclusions and direction of the Politburo and the Secretariat of the Central Party Committee, starting early 2020, the Government gave instructions on the implementation of a comprehensive vaccine strategy.
On August 13, 2021, the Government established a working group on vaccine diplomacy led by Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, with the participation of many officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health, National Defense, Public Security, Industry and Trade, Science and Technology and the Government Office.
Three days later, the working group had its first meeting to evaluate and review the initial results and future tasks. In the context that the country has not yet produced a vaccine for Covid-19, while the world's vaccine resources are scarce, vaccine diplomacy is confirmed to be a very important "front".
According to Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, campaigning for vaccine supply is the first step to decide on the successful implementation of the vaccine strategy.
Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son said that in the current situation, vaccine diplomacy is a very important "front". The working group now focuses on mobilizing international partners and organizations to continue providing vaccine aid, and promoting cooperation in production and technology transfer of vaccines, drugs and medical products for Vietnam as soon as possible. It also exerts efforts to find, connect and urge foreign partners in negotiating, importing and receiving vaccines, drugs and medical products.
According to Mr. Son, through vaccine diplomacy, Vietnam has so far received millions of vaccine doses from the support of the international community. This not only directly serves epidemic prevention, but also has very significant internal, external, political, national defense, security and socio-economic aspects.
Up to now, Vietnam has had access to about 60 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine. The country has also reached agreements with many partners and received vaccine aid from China, the US, Japan, Australia, the UK and other countries with a total of over 130 million doses. It is trying to negotiate to purchase 40 million vaccine doses to bring the total to 170 million doses by the end of 2021.
The vaccine diplomacy has made positive signs and initial effectiveness. It has laid the first bricks for the fulfilment of the goal of achieving herd immunity through vaccination in the context that there is no source of domestically produced vaccines.
In business trips of the Party and State leaders, vaccine diplomacy is always one of the top priorities.
During his recent visit to Cuba, President Nguyen Xuan Phuc witnessed the signing ceremony between Vietnamese and Cuban agencies, under which Vietnam ordered 5 million doses of Abdala vaccine of Cuba. One million doses were brought to Vietnam on the special aircraft that landed at Noi Bai airport on September 25.
The signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding on the purchase of 5 million doses of Soberana vaccine for children was also conducted in the presence of the President.
Within the framework of high-level sessions of the United Nations in New York, vaccine diplomacy was implemented in all activities, from the President's speech at UN meetings to bilateral meetings.
During more than 3 days in New York, the Vietnamese President met with more than 30 heads of state, heads of governments of countries and major international organizations such as the United Nations, World Bank (WB), International Monetary Fund, and leaders of nearly 50 leading corporations in the world. Other Vietnamese officials in the delegation also met with leaders of relevant partners, including about 20 foreign ministers.
As a result of these meetings, besides 1 million doses of Abdala vaccine shipped back home, many partners have committed to aid and sell vaccines to Vietnam. Specifically, South Korea pledged to deliver more than 1 million doses of vaccine by mid-October; Hungary committed to immediate delivery of 400,000 vaccine doses; The US promised to donate a large number of vaccines to Vietnam through COVAX in the upcoming allocation period.
During the President's meeting with Pfizer leaders, this corporation committed to deliver 31 million doses of vaccine in 2021 and 20 million doses of vaccine for children when they have full data on the effectiveness and safety of this vaccine.
In addition to vaccines, many partners provided medical aid to Vietnam, such as Northwestern Medicine Corporation with medical equipment worth $3.8 million, Thermo Fisher with 270,000 test kits worth $2 million, and David Duong – a Vietnamese-origin American with 1,000 ventilators …
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, Head of the National Steering Committee on Covid-19 Prevention and Control, had phone talks with the Prime Ministers of nearly 20 countries; sent letters and telegrams to leaders of 22 countries; had phone talks and sent letters to 10 international organizations to ask for vaccine support.
Almost every week, government leaders have bilateral activities, dozens of phone calls with foreign leaders, meetings with ambassadors of other countries in Vietnam, as well as with foreign corporations, which focus on cooperation for vaccine supply. Besides, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh has repeatedly asked WHO, COVAX, AstraZeneca, Pfizer... to speed up the delivery of vaccines for Vietnam.
In an online meeting with COVAX Program Executive Director Aurélia Nguyen on September 20, the Prime Minister affirmed that Vietnam's consistent policy is to put the health and safety of the people first and foremost. Vietnam is striving to vaccinate the entire population as quickly as possible.
As a result, besides 1 million doses of Abdala vaccine brought back home, many partners committed to aid and sell vaccines to Vietnam. For example, South Korea pledged to deliver more than 1 million doses of vaccine by mid-October; Hungary committed to immediate delivery of 400,000 doses… The US also promised to donate a large number of vaccines to Vietnam through the COVAX mechanism in the upcoming allocation period.
During over three days in New York, the Vietnamese President met with more than 30 heads of state, heads of governments and major international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank (WB), and the International Monetary Fund. The President also attended about 20 meetings and exchanges with nearly 50 leading corporations in the world. At the same time, other Vietnamese officials actively met with relevant partners, including about 20 foreign ministers.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh asked the Covax Facility to quickly allocate Covid-19 vaccines to Vietnam during a teleconference with its Office Managing Director Aurélia Nguyen on September 20.
The Government leader affirmed Vietnam’s consistent policy of putting people’s health and safety first and above all, and that the country is striving to achieve vaccine coverage of the entire population as fast and soon as possible.
PM Chinh said Vietnam is facing vaccine-related difficulties, so to ensure sufficient vaccines for people, he asked COVAX to prioritize allocating vaccines to Vietnam as fast and much as possible, especially in September, October, and November, and to fulfill the vaccine provision agreement with Vietnam in 2021.
For her part, Aurélia Nguyen highly valued Vietnam’s achievements in the COVID-19 fight, noting that the country has carried out vaccination in a smart, scientific, transparent, timely, and effective manner.
COVAX views Vietnam as one of the typical examples of effectively implementing the immunization campaign and the pandemic prevention and control
The Facility will exert every effort to realise its commitments to Vietnam, she said, adding it will continue allocating 85 million vaccine doses to countries around the world, including Vietnam, this October and that it will keep the distribution to Vietnam in the time ahead.
Recently, 2.6 million doses of vaccines donated by Germany have arrived in Ho Chi Minh City. This batch of vaccines is provided for Vietnam in accordance with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s promise to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.
The Italian government decided to give Vietnam more than 1.2 million doses of vaccine, bringing the total vaccine aid to Vietnam to more than 2.8 million doses.
The European Union is the second largest donor to COVAX, through which Vietnam has received more than 9 million vaccine doses. In addition, many EU member states have provided bilateral aid to Vietnam.
With 400,000 doses of vaccine arriving in Vietnam on September 25, the Japanese Government has donated a total of 3.58 million doses of vaccine to Vietnam since June 2021.
Most recently, the US has donated 1.5 million more doses of Pfizer vaccine to Vietnam. In addition to donating 7.5 million doses of vaccines since the Covid-19 pandemic occurred, the US has pledged $26.7 million worth of support to help Vietnam fight the epidemic.
During a visit to Vietnam in mid-September, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced that China would donate 3 million more doses of vaccines this year, bringing this country's total vaccine aid to Vietnam to 5.7 million doses.
A high-ranking delegation of the National Assembly of Vietnam led by National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue recently had a working trip to Austria to attend the fifth World Conference of Speakers of Parliament (WCSP 5). On this occasion, Mr. Hue paid a visit to Belgium, the European Union and Finland.
The National Assembly Chairman had a 5-day working schedule in three countries and five partners with a total of more than 70 events, including many high-level meetings, during which the Vietnamese leader asked for vaccine cooperation.
The National Assembly Chairman also witnessed Vietnamese businesses and foreign partners sign contracts to produce SARS-CoV-2 virus test kits as well as vaccines.
After this visit, Belgium and Slovakia provided 200,000 doses of vaccines and pledged to support and sell several millions of vaccine doses. Many organizations, businesses and individuals have provided medical equipment and supplies, especially Covid-19 test kits, with a total value of over VND 1,028 billion, making an important contribution to the fight against epidemic in the coming time.
Addressing an online meeting on COVID-19 response on August 15, PM Pham Minh Chinh emphasized that all COVID-19 vaccines are being administered freely to citizens.
So far, the Ministry of Health has allocated nearly 52.2 million vaccine doses to provinces and cities. It is expected that Vietnam will receive about 121.7 million doses in October-December 2021. For the entire 2021, it estimated that Vietnam has 155.7 million doses of vaccine through aid, aid commitments and orders.
By October 4, nearly 45 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines were administered, with over 34 million people getting the first shot and about 10 million people fully vaccinated with two shots.
In Hanoi, HCM City, Binh Duong and Long An, 95% of people aged 18 and older have been vaccinated with at least one dose.