Vietnam to Use Japan-Donated Vaccines in Three Epicenters of Fourth COVID-19 Wave

Police officer who issued IDs tested positive had contact with 6,000 people.

Vietnam to Use Japan-Donated Vaccines in Three Epicenters of Fourth COVID-19 Wave

Vietnam’s Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long told state media Thursday that the majority of the one million COVID-19 vaccines donated to the country by Japan this week would be used in the three epicenters of the country’s fourth wave of the deadly virus.

Vietnam has been among the most effective countries in tackling COVID-19, reporting no deaths among its 95 million people through late July 2020—a record that was attributed to effective contact tracing, strict quarantines, and early testing.

Since then, four separate waves of the virus swept over the country, leaving a trail of 11,794 confirmed cases and 61 deaths.

Since the beginning of the fourth wave in late April, the northern province of Bac Giang has recorded 5,007 cases, while nearby Bac Ninh province confirmed 1,454, and the southern economic hub Ho Chi Minh City reported 1,197.

The minister said Ho Chi Minh City would get 800,000 doses of the British-Swedish AstraZeneca vaccines donated by Japan, with vaccination starting this week.

Vietnam is the first ASEAN country to receive vaccines donated by Japan and the fifth shipment for Vietnam through the COVAX program and individual country donations. It remains the only country in ASEAN to have not used Chinese vaccines.

China has donated 100 million doses to other countries in the region, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on June 8.

Hoang Viet, a lecturer from the Ho Chi Minh City Law University told RFA’s Vietnamese Service that although China has announced it would be donating vaccines to many different countries, Vietnam was not among them.

“The first possibility is that the relationship between Vietnam and China is no longer as warm as before. The second possibility is that China may require some conditions for receiving donations or purchasing vaccines but Vietnam did not accept them," Hoang said.

He also said that the Vietnamese government may have taken into consideration its people’s objection to the use of Chinese vaccines.

"When the government talked about the possibility of buying Chinese vaccines, many people protested, creating pressure and making the government very cautious," he said.

Carl Thayer a professor at the University of New South Wales told RFA, “The Vietnamese government presently is casting a wide net seeking vaccine supplies from a variety of countries.

Among the vaccines in use in Vietnam are Russia’s Sputnik V and the U.S.’ Moderna vaccine. Additionally, Vietnam recently gave emergency approval for Pfizer vaccine made in Belgium and Germany. 

“China does not appear to be on Vietnam’s list due to anticipated widespread public reaction against Chinese vaccine,” Thayer said.

In a related development, Mr. Lam Minh Thanh, chairman of the southern province of Kien Giang’s People’s Committee said that the province planned to ask the central government to provide COVID-19 vaccines to all of 170,000 residents on Phu Quoc island so that the popular tourist destination could welcome visitors again from September or October 2021.

Contact tracing

A police officer in the northern coastal province of Nghe An who works in an ID-issuing office had contact with 6,000 people tested positive for COVID-19 according to a report in Ho Chi Minh City’s Public Security Newspaper.

The officer, called patient BN11634 in the report, worked at the photography and fingerprinting section of the Dien Chau district police. He had been on a busy business and travel schedule before being confirmed positive for COVID-19. 

His positive test caused Dien Chau and nearby Vinh city to completely close down Thursday.

A person who had contact with BN11634, a public servant at the Dien Chau People’s Committee tested positive by mid-day Thursday.

The report said it was not clear if the officer could be prosecuted for spreading the virus or not. A 22-year-old woman was Monday prosecuted on charges of spreading COVID-19.

According to the investigation into the woman’s case, she met with an infected person but did not reveal this to authorities.

Ms. Nguyen Thi Thu Huong, Head of the Propaganda and Education Department under the Nghe An Provincial Party Committee, denied that patient BN11634 had close contact with over 6,000 people. 

“Responsible agencies in Dien Chau district have traced/examined the case and confirmed 103 contacts, and 6,000 related people of which many have had close contact with the patient”, said Huong. 

The Tuoi Tre online newspaper quoted Huong as saying that most of the related people were local residents who had come to the headquarters of Dien Chau People’s Committee to apply for a new ID.  

However, Huong did not specify how those, who had close contact with patient BN11634, should be categorized. 

Reported by RFA’s Vietnamese Service. Translated by Anna Vu. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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The G7’s jumpstart for multilateral cooperation

Author: Kaewkamol Pitakdumrongkit, RSIS The 47th G7 Summit was held between 11–13 June 2021 in the United Kingdom. Global problems need global solutions and the G7 is one of the most important platforms for galvanising multilateralism. The G7 convenes some of the world’s largest and most advanced economies, which cumulatively account for 40 per cent […] The post The G7’s jumpstart for multilateral cooperation first appeared on East Asia Forum.

The G7’s jumpstart for multilateral cooperation

Author: Kaewkamol Pitakdumrongkit, RSIS

The 47th G7 Summit was held between 11–13 June 2021 in the United Kingdom. Global problems need global solutions and the G7 is one of the most important platforms for galvanising multilateralism. The G7 convenes some of the world’s largest and most advanced economies, which cumulatively account for 40 per cent of global GDP. Outcomes of the meeting can set the direction of responses to transnational issues.

Leaders agreed to collectively donate one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines directly or indirectly via COVAX to low-income countries over the next year. G7 members also took leadership in fostering ‘a resilient, integrated and inclusive global health system prepared and equipped to prevent the causes and escalation of disease, and to detect emerging health threats quickly’.

Member states adopted the Carbis Bay Communique and the G7 Health Ministers’ Statement which include concrete commitments to actions that will ensure the development of the post-pandemic economic system. For example, nations pledged to work together to reduce the time taken to develop vaccines, detect epidemic threats and treat future outbreaks in less than 100 days.

Finance ministers were tasked to work with members of the G20 to explore ways to finance sustainable global health and health security. G7 members also requested a timely and transparent WHO-led phase two COVID-19 origins study. The bloc’s leadership signals that other countries should abandon inward-looking measures which undercut the earlier global responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and embrace multilateralism to jointly defeat transnational health issues.

On climate change, G7 states — which together account for 20 per cent of the world’s carbon emissions — reaffirmed their commitments to the Paris Agreement, keeping global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. To tackle the fossil fuel issue, leaders agreed to phase out coal energy production and end new overseas investment in this sector by the end of 2021. The G7 also plans to raise US$100 billion annually to help the developing world address carbon emissions and global warming.

The grouping also endorsed the 2030 Nature Compact aimed at reversing global biodiversity loss by 2030. It promised to safeguard 30 per cent of the Earth’s lands and oceans. These commitments reflect that G7 members’ willingness to collectively work toward a greener planet. This will likely generate positive momentum for the upcoming UN COP26 in Glasgow in November.

Another outcome of the summit was the adoption of the US-led ‘Build Back Better World’ (B3W) partnership, which seeks to fund infrastructure and narrow the US$40 trillion financing gap in the developing world by 2035. B3W is values-driven and upholds transparency, inclusiveness and financial and environmental sustainability. The initiative will tap into private capital via development financing and mobilise ‘hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure investment for low- and middle-income countries’.

Leaders called out China in certain areas. For instance, the Carbis Bay Communique urges Beijing to uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms for Xinjiang and Hong Kong. G7 Leaders also stressed the importance of sustaining an inclusive and rules-based Indo-Pacific. While not specifically mentioning China, leaders expressed the importance of a peaceful resolution to the Taiwan issue and voiced concerns about recent developments in the East and South China Seas.

Although these outcomes were steps in the right direction, there is more work to be done. For instance, the donation of one billion vaccines falls short of the 11 billion doses required to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Ending the pandemic also requires more than vaccine donations. Shipment and distribution networks must be strengthened to ensure that those in need are inoculated in a timely fashion.

Some of the pledges relating to climate change lack detail. The Carbis Bay Communique is vague about the types of technologies the G7 will embrace to reduce fossil fuel production. While the document mentions plans to move away from oil-reliant automobiles towards zero-emission vehicles in the transport sector, there are no specific timelines to achieve this goal.

Admittedly, G7 members differ in their bilateral approaches toward Beijing. Yet, the summit outcomes expressed the grouping’s united front against China. The communique mentions ‘China’ four times and connotes that the pact does not agree with China’s approaches in different areas. Unsurprisingly, this drew criticisms from Beijing. As soon as leaders called out China for human rights violations, the Chinese Embassy in the United Kingdom urged the G7 to stop interfering in China’s internal affairs.

Beijing sees the US-inspired B3W initiative as a response to its own Belt Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI has come under fire from several Western states for its lack of transparency, debt trap risks and overwhelming involvement of Chinese state-owned enterprises. The call for a second WHO COVID-19 origins investigation will also further deepen rifts between Beijing and G7 members, especially the United States.

Overall, the summit demonstrates that multilateralism is alive, with the G7 being a platform through which collective action can be coordinated to tackle global issues. But the bloc’s confrontational stance towards China may not only enrage Beijing but also make it more difficult for other non-G7 states to navigate a more divided international environment. How the outcomes of the meeting will be carried forward in other international forums remains to be seen.

Kaewkamol Pitakdumrongkit is Assistant Professor and Deputy Head of the Centre for Multilateralism Studies at the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

The post The G7’s jumpstart for multilateral cooperation first appeared on East Asia Forum.
Source : East Asia Forum More   

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