Learning from Viet Nam’s Response to COVID-19

By Mary Croy

Viet Nam is a small country with a large population of 97 million people. Yet as of mid-April, there were 262 reported cases of COVID-19 and 0 reported fatalities. How can a developing country outperform the USA and all of Europe in defeating a deadly virus?

  • Early action:  As soon as the virus emerged in Wuhan, Viet Nam strengthened its border monitoring. Without banning travelers, officials conducted checks at airports and at the border for anyone exhibiting the symptoms of COVID-19. Those who had symptoms were isolated and monitored at the hospital.
  • Viet Nam quickly instituted residential quarantine. Vinh Phuc town, a manufacturing center north of Ha Noi, was quarantined for three weeks. But quarantine in Viet Nam is different from quarantine in the US. People living under quarantine are given social support, such as a box of food delivered to every family in the area.
  • Testing: Viet Nam quickly developed their own test kits and manufactured them domestically. In addition, they used contact tracing to track down and test the contacts of infected people. 
  • Medical students as well as retired health professionals have been brought into the fight. They have created cell phone apps to find out about hotspots and to ask for donations from those able to afford it.
  • Viet Nam has transformed its manufacturing base into an engine to produce equipment needed to fight the virus. 450,000 protective suits have been donated to the U.S. and 550,000 masks were sent to Europe.

As socialists, we can learn some lessons from the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam. Control of production and the ability to quickly manufacture needed equipment is a crucial part of protecting public health.  

Mary E. Croy lived and worked for nine years in Ha Noi, Viet Nam

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