Vietnam's COVID-19 response
COVID-19 has presented the world with new problems, set against the backdrop of a globalized economy. Some nations have opted for strict shutdowns, while others have taken a more gradual approach via staged lockdowns. Regardless of the initial steps taken, nations have seen astronomical numbers of new coronavirus infections. Some nations have been able to control outbreaks better than others. Vietnam’s COVID-19 response won praise from the World Health Organization for its swift implementation and effectiveness. Regardless of a relatively low GDP and proximity to China, Vietnam was able to keep COVID-19 cases below 300 while other nations surged in April 2020.

Early Response

After nations throughout Southeast Asia and other locations around the world began reporting cases, Vietnam’s COVID-19 response (initially) was to issue a nation-wide address to quell the spread. These regulations, though extensive, were quite effective. Vietnam fell victim to both the SARS outbreak of 2003 and the H1N1 outbreak in 2009. These experiences meant the government was on high alert, as soon as reports began to trickle out of Wuhan, China in January 2020.

Part of their methodology included banning all flights, either domestic or international. This helped to reduce travel between nations as well as between different areas of Vietnam. Additionally, the government has placed more than 44,000 people in quarantine camps. Also, Vietnam’s COVID-19 response included widespread economic shutdowns to decrease person-to-person contact. While these measures were effective in reducing the number of cases, it has taken an economic toll on the markets around Vietnam.


The nation overall is well below the world’s average GDP, coming in at $261 per capita. This indicates that the Vietnamese economy will be less flexible when placed under economic stress. While these widespread restrictions and quarantines are effective at limiting exposure to the virus — economic ramifications accompany them as well. According to the Vietnamese Labor Ministry, 7.8 million people have been left unemployed as a result of the pandemic.

Amid economic pressure, the government and people are coming together to help move past these hard times. NPR reports that some entrepreneurs within cities have established “rice ATMs” to ensure that all people can access food, regardless of income. In addition to an economic toll, a second wave of the virus is also threatening the Vietnamese people. Since the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in March — Vietnam was able to avoid community spread through the early measures it took. In mid-July 2020, the nation still has no evidence of community transmission. However, in late July 2020, more cases began cropping up to bring the nation’s case count up to 867 cases. This represents an increase of more than 600 cases and the nation’s first 10 COVID-19 deaths accompanying them.

These cases are a warning to the nation about how easy the virus spreads. Regardless, the nation is responding swiftly and responsibly as 80,000 visitors have already flown out of Danang as the city shut down once again to prevent more infections.

The Takeaway

The Vietnamese COVID-19 response began with strong policies to protect its citizens against COVID-19. Though these restrictions posed economic challenges, the nation was able to shelter those who posed a risk in reportedly well-maintained and staffed quarantine camps while other citizens worked to ensure those who faced lay-offs were still able to feed themselves and their families. The spike in cases is indicative that the pandemic, though controlled, is not over.

Allison Moss
Photo: Flickr

What is Swine FluWhat is swine flu? It is an H1N1 form of influenza that appeared in the U.S. in April 2009 and hasn’t gone away.  The respiratory infection continues to sweep across the globe and the U.S.


The swine flu earned its name because it first originated in pigs. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), human infections can be caused by direct contact with contaminated animals, environments or, occasionally, other humans. 

In 2009, the WHO called the swine flu a pandemic, as it was spreading fast around the world. At the outset, there was no vaccine and few people had any level of immunity to the virus. 


The symptoms of the swine flu are similar to the regular flu and include a cough, fever, muscle or joint pain, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, headache, chills and fatigue. More severe symptoms include shortness of breath, prolonged fever and severe vomiting. In these cases, it is important to see a doctor.

Like the regular flu, swine flu can lead to or worsen serious problems including pneumonia, lung infections and other breathing problems. 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states the H1N1 virus that caused the pandemic is no longer a pandemic-level threat. Swine flu is now a regular human flu virus that circulates seasonally.

Treatment for swine flu is similar to regular flu, and usually only requires symptom relief. However, it is recommended to get the seasonal flu vaccine each year, as it protects against the influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common in the following season.

To address this and stop the next pandemic, scientists are currently researching to understand what swine flu is and how to create a universal influenza vaccine.


In October 2017, Vanderbilt University Medical Center announced the Universal Influenza Vaccine Initiative. The university said researchers are “leading an international effort to develop a universal influenza vaccine that would protect everyone against all strains of the flu anywhere in the world” and will begin tests in early 2018.

The Human Vaccines Project, a public-private partnership, is funding the project.

With additional knowledge and research, people can learn what the virus is and raise awareness of how to prevent it.

– Julia Lee

Photo: Flickr