Special working group on vaccine diplomacy to fight COVID-19

August, 19/2021 - 07:43

In the context of the complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines are considered a strategic and sustainable solution. Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính recently signed  decision on establishing the Government's Working Group on vaccine diplomacy (the Working Group). Minister of Foreign Affairs Bùi Thanh Sơn, Head of the Working Group, spoke to the press about the specific objectives of this Working Group and the contributions of the foreign affairs ministry to the Government's joint efforts in the fight against COVID-19.

 

Minister of Foreign Affairs Bùi Thanh Sơn

In the context of the complicated developments of the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines are considered a strategic and sustainable solution. Prime Minister Phạm Minh Chính recently signed  decision on establishing the Government's Working Group on vaccine diplomacy (the Working Group).

Minister of Foreign Affairs Bùi Thanh Sơn, Head of the Working Group, spoke to the press about the specific objectives of this Working Group and the contributions of the foreign affairs ministry to the Government's joint efforts in the fight against COVID-19.

Can you talk about the significance of establishing the Government's Working Group on vaccine diplomacy and the upcoming plan of the Working Group to access vaccine sources as quickly, as much and as soon as possible?

With the appearance of new strains from the beginning of 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic is very complicated, spreading rapidly in the world and in Việt Nam, the fight against COVID- 19 in our country entered a new phase.

With the motto "5K + vaccine + technology", the vaccine strategy is both a very urgent task, as well as a strategic and long-term task to control and move towards repelling the pandemic. When the country has not yet produced a vaccine against COVID-19, the requirements for pandemic prevention and control are very urgent, when the world's vaccine resources are scarce, vaccine diplomacy is important, because obtaining vaccine sources is the first step that determines the successful implementation of the vaccine strategy.

In reality, through vaccine diplomacy, so far our country has received millions of doses of vaccines from the support of the international community, which not only contributes directly to the prevention and control of the pandemic, but is also very meaningful in internal affairs, foreign affairs, political, national defence, security and socio-economic development.

On August 13, 2021, the Prime Minister signed a decision to establish a Government Working Group on vaccine diplomacy led by the Minister of Foreign Affairs; members are leaders of the Government Office and other ministries including ministries of Health, National Defence, Public Security, Industry and Trade, Science and Technology. The establishment of this Working Group is very important: it continues to affirm the consistent and cross-cut policy of the Party and State in considering protecting people's health first and foremost, mobilising all domestic and international resources to repel the COVID-19 pandemic at the earliest and bringing socio-economic activities and people's lives back to normal as soon as possible.

The establishment of the Working Group also affirms the Government's great determination in implementing the vaccine strategy to expand vaccinations to the entire population. In addition to creating all favourable conditions to speed up research and production of vaccines in the country, in the immediate future, it is necessary to promote vaccine diplomacy to have the fastest access to  vaccines, medical equipment and drugs to treat COVID-19 patients as much and as soon as possible.

In addition, the Government's Working Group is a mechanism to strengthen close, rhythmic and synchronous coordination among ministries in order to promote and improve the effectiveness of vaccine diplomacy and to promptly respond to better requirements for COVID-19 prevention and control.

Immediately after the Prime Minister issued the decision, the Working Group met and agreed on the Working Group's motto, which is to promote the highest sense of responsibility to the Party and people, to take initiative and to closely coordinate with each other urgently, creatively and effectively.

With that motto and spirit in mind, the Working Group under the direction of the Government and the Prime Minister will advise and deploy drastic and synchronous campaigns at high-ranking and other levels, in bilateral and multilaterally channels, domestically and through Việt Nam's representative agencies abroad, in any form whether it’s online or offline to make the most of opportunities to access vaccines quickly.

In particular, the Working Group will focus on key tasks: promoting contacts and mobilising international partners and organisations to continue providing aid, cooperation in production and technology transfer of vaccines and drugs and medical supplies. Along with that, we’ll spare no efforts to find, approach, connect with foreign partners to either import or receive vaccines, drugs and medical products. We’ll work with partners to deliver vaccines to Việt Nam on time or earlier than planned according to signed agreements and contracts; at the same time, actively verify foreign partners, information related to their ability to supply vaccines, drugs and medical products that Việt Nam can import or co-operate in manufacturing.

Could you please tell us about the contribution of the foreign affairs ministry to the Government's joint efforts in the prevention and control of COVID-19?

Thoroughly grasping the foreign policy of the 13th Party Congress, promoting the pioneering role of foreign affairs in creating and maintaining a peaceful and stable environment, mobilising external resources in order to develop the country and improve the position and prestige of the country, the foreign affairs sector has implemented synchronously and comprehensively external activities to make important contributions to socio-economic development and in COVID-19 prevention and control.

Through closely monitoring the developments of the COVID-19 pandemic and the experiences of countries around the world, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs quickly advised the Government on the trend of identifying vaccines as a decisive factor to repel the pandemic and opening up and restoring economic development.

The foreign affairs ministry has also taken the lead in advising on the implementation of vaccine diplomacy; proactively proposing to include the content of vaccine advocacy in the Party and State's external activities, especially the leaders' meetings and phone calls with leaders of other countries and international organisations. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has, directly and through Vietnamese representative agencies abroad, made efforts to find and access vaccine sources, actively requested partners to donate vaccines and medical equipment to Việt Nam. Up to now, most of the important partners and traditional friends have supported Việt Nam with millions of doses of vaccines and many medical equipment, directly serving the prevention and control of COVID-19 in the country. 

Making the most of the network of 94 Vietnamese overseas representative agencies, the diplomatic sector has actively promoted the understanding of experiences of other countries on COVID-19 prevention and control and economic recovery and development. On that basis, we have advised the Government to take appropriate measures to realise "dual goals" flexibly and harmoniously.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been working closely with ministries and sectors to research and advise the Government on many measures to facilitate the travel of experts and foreign investors into Việt Nam to maintain and develop production and business in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have also been working closely with ministries and sectors to promote citizen protection and support overseas Vietnamese to overcome the pandemic's difficulties. We have been working to strengthen the affection and attachment of our people to the Fatherland and homeland, taking advantage of the great resources of overseas Vietnamese for pandemic prevention and control. Up to now, Việt Nam has made 543 flights, bringing back about 136,000 citizens to the country. Overseas Vietnamese have supported the people in the country with more than VNĐ50 billion and many medical products. — VNS

 

 

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