Vaccine diplomacy - A spearhead in the COVID-19 fight

The year of 2021 has been a particularly impressive year for vaccine diplomacy. Since the beginning, vaccine diplomacy has quickly become a top priority and the main focus of the Party and State's external affairs.
Vaccine diplomacy - A breakthrough attack
At the reception ceremony for vaccines, equipment and medical supplies to prevent and control the COVID-19 pandemic in September 2021. (Photo: Tuan Anh)

From a country with low coverage of the COVID-19 vaccine in the first months of 2021, thanks to the promotion of vaccine diplomacy as well as a widespread, drastic and methodical vaccination campaign, up to now, Viet Nam has achieved an impressive COVID-19 vaccine coverage rate.

Those results are the achievement of the Government's right policy and drastic determination in implementing the vaccine strategy to expand vaccination to the entire population.

Strong and timely strategy

Going back to the first months of the year 2021, when the COVID-19 epidemic situation was complicated in the world and in Viet Nam, with the appearance and spread of new variants, the requirements for pandemic prevention and control became more urgent than ever.

In the context that the COVID-19 vaccine is an extremely scarce commodity in the world, the keyword "vaccine diplomacy" appeared and became one of the first-line "fronts" that decided the success of the vaccine campaign, thus making practical contributions to the fight against the epidemic.

Under the urgent requirements on COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control, on August 13, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh signed a decision to establish a Government Working Group on vaccine diplomacy to strengthen the close, rhythmic and synchronous coordination among relevant ministries, thereby promoting and improving the effectiveness of vaccine diplomacy.

Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, Head of the Government's Working Group on vaccine diplomacy, once shared that the establishment of this Working Group has various essential meanings.

It can be affirmed that, this is a timely decision, aiming right at what the country needs; demonstrating the consistent and transparent policy of our Party and State that protecting people's health comes first and foremost; thoroughly grasp the foreign policy of the 13th Party Congress, promote the pioneering role of foreign affairs in creating and maintaining a peaceful and stable environment, mobilizing external resources to develop the country as well as improve its position and prestige.

According to Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Minh Vu, Standing Deputy Head of the Government's Working Group on vaccine diplomacy, since its establishment, under the close direction of the Government, with a sense of responsibility to the Party and people, the working group has been urgently working non-stop, closely and effectively coordinated in all stages, from assessment, consultation, to proposing forms and measures of advocacy and exchanging with partners.

Advocating for vaccines, therapeutic drugs and medical equipment, and transferring technology for epidemic prevention and control have been identified as top priorities in high-level external activities.

Leaders of the Party, State, Government and National Assembly have paid close attention, guided and participated directly and strongly, in bilateral and multilateral diplomacy, telephone talks, meetings as well as contact with leaders of countries, international organizations, large pharmaceutical/medical companies... All these efforts are to serve for the number one priority - to access the largest, fastest and earliest supply of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Fruitful results

With the participation of the whole political system, led by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Vietnamese representative missions abroad, Viet Nam's vaccine diplomacy efforts have yielded fruitful results: consecutive batches of COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Viet Nam from various different sources.

According to the Ministry of Health, as of December 25, 2021, Viet Nam has received about 181.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine and other medical equipment and medicines from our bilateral and multilateral partners as well as overseas Vietnamese.

Along with that, many partners have pledged to continue to support, deliver on time or before the deadline, and cooperate in the production of vaccines and drugs with the country in the near future.

Vaccine diplomacy - A breakthrough attack
The Vietnamese Embassy in Australia held a meeting to deploy vaccine diplomacy. (Photo: Vietnamese Embassy in Australia)

Currently, Viet Nam is among the countries with a high vaccination rate, thereby creating a solid foundation for the nation to transit to a safe and flexible adaptation phase, effectively control the COVID-19 pandemic as well as recover and develop the economy.

These achievements have contributed to promoting the fight to prevent and restrain the negative consequences of the COVID-19 global pandemic, protect people's health, ensure social stability, and create a solid foundation for the economy to recover under the new normal.

At the same time, the outstanding results of vaccine diplomacy also mean to prove Viet Nam's prestige and position in the international arena as well as its wide network of relationships with friends on all continents. This is the result of 35 years of Doi Moi, the crystallization of consistent efforts to implement the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, multilateralization and diversification.

“The year 2022 is coming with unforeseen challenges ahead of us because the pandemic is still with us and surging in many parts of the world. But with the fast and impressive delivery of COVID-19 vaccination in Viet Nam in recent months, together with citizens’ support for mask mandates and the Government’s agile responses, I believe that Viet Nam is well positioned to overcome the pandemic challenges and to recover soon” - Ms. Caitlin Wiesen, Chief Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Viet Nam.

Continuous efforts

In the coming time, the COVID-19 epidemic is forecasted to continue to develop complicatedly and may not end in the near future. The risk of new outbreaks remains. The shortage of vaccines and therapeutic drugs is still serious, especially in developing and newly industrialized countries.

In Viet Nam, although the fourth wave of COVID-19 epidemic is under control, it still poses many potential threats, especially the risk of attacking industrial parks and areas with high population density, thus seriously affecting the economic recovery and social security of Viet Nam.

In that context, at a regular press conference of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 9, Spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang said that vaccine diplomacy will continue to be promoted in the coming time to ensure the demand for vaccination in 2022.

Besides that, vaccine diplomacy also serves to access potential vaccine sources for children; supporting domestic vaccine production; ensuring the source of purchasing, support the production and preparation of drugs to treat COVID-19 in the country and continue to mobilize international resources to support medical equipment, attract investment in the field of public health, contributing to improving the quality of health infrastructure.

According to Minister Bui Thanh Son, the Government's Working Group on vaccine diplomacy has developed a plan to buy vaccines in 2022 to ensure vaccine supply for both children and adults; continue to access the source of therapeutic drugs; strengthen connectivity, support cooperation to improve the capacity of grassroots health care, preventive medicine...

Additionally, the Working Group will also continue to promote international cooperation in vaccine production to support domestic vaccine development as well as ensure stable supply and long-term autonomy of vaccines.

Determining that COVID-19 treatment drugs play an important role in limiting severe cases, reducing mortality and as a solution for long-term, safe coexistence with the disease, the Working Group needs to promote access to special drugs to treat COVID-19.

Under the spirit of a proactive and flexible manner to adapt to new situations, vaccine diplomacy has been and continues to be one of the breakthroughs in the pandemic fight, contributing to promoting the pioneering role of external affairs, successfully implementing the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress.

Deploying vaccine diplomacy, each diplomat becomes a soldier, promoting the highest sense of responsibility for the Party and people, ready to rush into the "diplomatic front" in this gun-free but equally tough battle.

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Thu Trang