Vietnam’s new outbreak has severely affected its ranking on Bloomberg’s new COVID-19 Resilience list. From being in 11th place in April, the country is now at number 40.
Bloomberg releases COVID Resilience Ranking every month, curating the success — and failure — of the world’s largest 53 economies in containing the virus with the least amount of social and economic disruption. This month, the data and media company focused on how countries are reopening borders and progressing toward normalization.
With an overall score of 53.8, Vietnam lies just one place higher than Brazil, a nation that has 18.4 million COVID-19 cases and over 500,000 deaths. To date, Vietnam has recorded 16,136 cases and 78 deaths. Neighboring Thailand, meanwhile, stands at number 39.
Vietnam scored poorly in lockdown severity (77), people covered by vaccines (1.6%) and quality of life (115.5).
The fourth wave of local infections, which now severely affects then-lax Ho Chi Minh City, has already become a nightmare. Social distancing measures have been extended several times, and may even be imposed until the end of July. Authorities have already intensified lockdowns, and shut down street markets and large gatherings.
With many Vietnamese have expressed their fears over the new outbreak, there’s so much to be done to improve the country’s vaccination rate. Vietnam aims to procure 150 million doses of vaccines to inoculate 70% of its total population this year. However, the supply of vaccines is scarce and inconsistent. As of June 26, a little more than three million have been given their first dose, while 155,488 people have been fully vaccinated, that’s just 3.3% and 0.2% of Vietnam’s 98 million people.
The biggest vaccination drive in history is enabling parts of the globe to abolish mask mandates, relax restrictions and dismantle border curbs, making the magnitude of reopening key to quality of life. Taming cases and deaths was once paramount, along with ensuring a robust health-care system. Now, the ability to essentially turn back the clock and return to pre-pandemic times is taking on an even greater significance, reads the Bloomberg Resilience ranking blog.
Central to this is the countries’ openness to the world, which is why the “Reopening Progress” has been added as a new key element to the list. The significant pivot has ushered in dramatic changes to the ranks. The US is now ranked first, with its fast and expansive vaccine rollout that stemmed what was once the world’s worst outbreak.
“Restaurants are packed, masks are no longer required for vaccinated people and Americans are going on vacation again, emboldened by a vaccination rate that covers half of the population. The US is set for blistering economic growth this year thanks to a $1.9 trillion stimulus package and inoculation-fueled consumer confidence.”
The US’ number one overall ranking reflects a best-case scenario of high vaccinations, a waning outbreak, flight capacity nearing full recovery, and few travel curbs on vaccinated people.
European countries like Switzerland, France and Spain are in the top 10 as they open their borders to vaccinated tourists.
However, many parts of the Asia-Pacific region, which have performed well in the ranking until now, have slipped down as strict border curbs remain in place. Singapore (13th), Hong Kong (30th) and Australia (7th) lagged behind in terms of the number of outbound and inbound travel routes they have with the rest of the world for vaccinated international travelers. Taiwan also plunged to near-bottom for the same reason, accentuated by a lagging vaccination drive and a resurgent outbreak.
“The Asia-Pacific, which has relied on shutting out the world to snuff out COVID-19 — delivering vastly lower mortality rates — scores poorly on reopening. Border closures and onerous travel quarantine requirements help keep the virus at bay, but leave them increasingly isolated.”
Apparent rich-poor divide
It’s the US and the UK’s (ranked 9th) impressive vaccination drives that made up for their overwhelming COVID-19 tally. Their focus on fast rollouts have been proven pivotal to their economic recovery, and thus allowed them to go back to normality.
According to Bloomberg, economies that moved early on shots have now seen their great advantage. In places where the majority are inoculated, the link between infection numbers and deaths appears to be weakening.
But most of the developing world has yet to even start inoculating in a significant way, mainly because they lack the purchasing power to forge deals with vaccine manufacturers. COVAX, which is helping poor nations to procure doses, is also facing a supply shortfall that has affected many countries that rely on it, including Vietnam.
“The global failure to share vaccines equitably is fueling a two-track pandemic that is now taking its toll on some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people,” said the WHO’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier this month.
This apparent disparity between the rich and the poor is posing another level of threat to the world: the more the coronavirus spreads unchecked, the bigger the opportunity for new and more dangerous mutations to develop.
“The chance of a new strain entering a vaccinated place and igniting a new wave can’t be discounted. Leaders in western economies that have reopened like the US are warning their unvaccinated people that they’re vulnerable to the fast-spreading delta variant.”
Some of the world’s wealthiest nations have already pledged hundreds of millions of doses, but developing nations need billions of shots. China is filling some of that gap with its homegrown vaccines that have been made available via bilateral deals with hard-hit nations like Brazil and Indonesia.
With the pandemic creating economic and social havoc for a year and a half now and the threat of new variants that may drive a new phase of the pandemic, greater emphasis is put on societal compliance. Countries where people have confidence in their governments and faith in their guidance tackled the pandemic more successfully, avoided economically-crippling lockdowns and are now poised to enter the new normal.