top of page

Around The World: COVID In Poland And Vietnam

Fascism is strong in Poland; historically, it always has been. So why would it surprise anyone that there have been explicitly far right demonstrations against vaccine mandates led by fascists? Poland has had 2,890,484 cases, 7th worst in Europe and 75,379 deaths, also the continent's 7th worse. Just half the country is fully vaccinate, Poland lagging most of Europe:

  • Portugal- 75% fully vaccinated

  • Denmark- 73% fully vaccinated

  • Spain- 71% fully vaccinated

  • Belgium- 71% fully vaccinated

  • Ireland- 69% fully vaccinated

  • UK- 64% fully vaccinated

  • Netherlands- 62% fully vaccinated

  • Italy- 61% fully vaccinated

  • Germany- 61% fully vaccinated

  • France- 61% fully vaccinated

  • Norway- 59% fully vaccinated

  • Austria- 59% fully vaccinated

  • Sweden- 57% fully vaccinated

  • Czechia- 54% fully vaccinated

  • Greece- 54% fully vaccinated

  • Switzerland- 52% fully vaccinated

  • Finland- 51% fully vaccinated

I doubt there would ever be anything like that in Vietnam. There mediatory vaccination is gaining into effect for Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City on September 15. Only 3.3% of the country is fully vaccinated and the pandemic has been growing there. There have been 154,307 cases (just 5,330 cases per million people) and just 13,074 deaths. But the ferocity of the delta variant is showing itself now-- especially in Ho Chi Minh City. Friday, Vietnam reported 14,922 new case; yesterday it was 9,521. And today 13,137.

The health ministry announced that "The cities must 'mobilise all capable forces including private medical facilities, to vaccinate people at full capacity,' the ministry said in an emergency dispatch. Government data showed 88% of Ho Chi Minh City’s adult population of 6.97 million have been inoculated with at least one shot. The rate is 53% for Hanoi’s adult population of 5.75m. The ministry also set the 15 September deadline for the southern industrial provinces of Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Long An to vaccinate all of their adult populations. It said Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong and Long An have been allocated enough vaccine doses for the vaccination drive."

All those vaccines are coming from the EU. DW reported that "Italy and Romania last week became the latest European countries to donate COVID-19 vaccines to Vietnam. In previous weeks, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and France all gave doses to Hanoi. DW estimates that EU states have so far donated or pledged to provide a combined total of 2.6 million inoculations to Vietnam, a key actor in Asian politics. On top of that, Vietnam is a large recipient of vaccines donated by the COVAX scheme, which has received roughly a third of its overall funding from EU states through their 'Team Europe' initiative." Why?

"European states likely have a different mix of motivations that combine national interest and altruism," said Carl Thayer, an emeritus professor from the University of New South Wales in Australia. "Providing donations of COVID vaccines to Vietnam is a logical response to these drivers."
As of August 30, just 2.6% of Vietnam's population had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the lowest rate in Southeast Asia. This is in large part because early this year the Vietnamese government chose to focus on developing its own domestic vaccines-- an effort that has had varying success. The communist government in Hanoi expects these domestically produced vaccines to be available by early 2022.
Pundits have also accused the Vietnamese government of hubris after it appeared to be in no hurry to procure vaccines when they became available. Vietnam recorded just 1,465 infections and 35 deaths in 2020, while its economy was one of the few in Asia that saw growth last year.
But the pandemic has torn through the country in recent months, made worse by the spread of the more contagious delta variant. Around 96% of Vietnam's total of 470,000 cases were recorded after July 1.
...[A]nalysts suspect European governments are not driven by altruism alone. The EU has an economic interest in Vietnam recovering from the pandemic as quickly as possible, and this necessitates widespread vaccination.
Vietnam is now the EU's 15th-largest trading partner and its largest in Southeast Asia, an area of the world where Brussels is keen to develop economic and geopolitical interests.
The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement-- the second trade pact that Brussels has signed with a Southeast Asian country following an earlier free trade agreement with Singapore-- came into effect in mid-2020.
Le Thu of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute noted that US companies including Nike, Adidas and Apple, whose supply chains in Vietnam have been affected by the surge in infections in the country, have lobbied the US government to donate vaccines to Vietnam. The US has subsequently provided millions of vaccines to the country.
Along with having economic importance, Vietnam is also one of the key actors in geopolitics within the Indo-Pacific region, in which European states are now desperate to find a foothold.
Donating vaccines to Vietnam is "part of a larger geopolitical push by European countries to gain influence and good standing from the Vietnamese government," said Tuan Le Anh, deputy CIO and head of research at Dragon Capital.
Vietnam has been the most vocal opponent of China's aggressive activity in the South China Sea, where Hanoi and Beijing both claim the same disputed territory.

bottom of page