In its latest and last COVID-19 Recovery Index, Nikkei has put Vietnam in the top 10 as the Southeast Asian country makes significant progress after the pandemic.
Vietnam, which ranked 100th in Nikkei’s first index in July 2021, has risen to the top 8 in October, scoring 75, led by a perfect mark in the vaccinations category. Neighboring country Cambodia took fourth place with a score of 76.5
Nikkei’s index assesses 121 countries and regions on infection management, vaccine rollouts, and social mobility. A higher ranking indicates a more advanced recovery, characterized by lower infection and death rates, better inoculation coverage, and fewer restrictions on movement.
Observations from the past 15 months have shown that even countries that suffered major outbreaks have been able to turn things around, first with determined vaccination drives and then by choosing to relax restrictions, Nikkei Asia reported.
Bahrain took the number one spot, followed by Qatar and Rwanda. For Southeast Asian nations, Singapore is in 23rd place, Malaysia in 38th, and Thailand in 70th. Laos and the Philippines slipped into the ranking, claiming the 89th and 101st places, respectively.
The two Mekong neighbors are a case in point. Cambodia and Vietnam had early success in managing the coronavirus one year into the pandemic but were hit hard by the delta variant in the middle of 2021 when they had barely started mass inoculations. This forced the duo to impose draconian measures, including lockdowns, the report read.
Vietnam went into different levels of lockdown from May to September 2021 to mitigate the impact of its fourth and worst COVID outbreak. For most of 2021, the country recorded thousands of new local cases daily. The expanded lockdowns forced a third of Vietnam’s population to stay home, halting major economic and social activities.
The country slowly lifted mobility restrictions in October, bringing back the hustle and bustle to major cities like Saigon.
In March 2022, Vietnam — having already vaccinated the majority of its population at that time — fully reopened its borders to all foreign travelers. While doubts and confusion clouded the first few weeks, tourists started coming in. By May, everyone entering the country no longer had to present vaccination certificates or negative COVID-19 tests, nor did they undergo isolation.
This progress has translated into brighter economic outlooks. In its latest economic forecast, the World Bank raised Vietnam's annual growth prediction to 7.2%, Nikkei Asia added in its report.
In the third quarter, Vietnam showed double-digit growth powered by a robust manufacturing rebound. With a GDP growth rate of 13.67% — its highest ever since 2011 — the country once again became a model nation, at least in the region, for an impressive economic upswing.
Besides World Bank, financial institutions such as Standard Chartered also forecast a positive end to 2022 for Vietnam. It raised the GDP growth forecast to 7.5%.
The Vietnamese government even expects a higher growth rate of 8%, beating its official target of 6-6.5% for this year. With manufacturing, foreign trade, services, and construction expanding steadily, Vietnam is poised to become the region’s fastest-growing economy this year.