Vietnam’s COVID-19 response had been one of the most effective in the world. Its comparatively record low number of cases and deaths and its impressive economic performance during the global pandemic boosted the country’s reputation internationally. A good economic performance boosted the confidence of the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) just as it was undergoing a leadership change. A study conducted among 23 countries in May 2020 revealed that Vietnamese respondents recorded the second-highest level of satisfaction after China, with 77% rating positively their government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. 2020 was also a critical year for Vietnam’s politics, both because of the country’s important diplomatic roles as chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, and because of the once-every-five years Party Congress in early 2021. Moreover, the 13th Party Congress was one of the most important since 1986, when the country embarked on the transformative Doi Moi reforms of renovation, happening amidst political infighting and generational change within the party.
The Global Economy and Development Program at Brookings conducted a survey on multilateralism in the Spring of 2021 as part of a project on the future of global governance. This report summarizes and analyzes the results. It comes at a time when the new Biden administration has re-committed the United States to multilateral cooperation and multiple initiatives—notably on international taxation, the issuance of $650 billion of new Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), and ramped up efforts to cut emissions to combat climate change—are underway. At the same time, the rivalry between the United States and China is growing, threatening a new form of Cold War, and new technologies are emerging, promising enhanced human welfare while introducing the risk of misuse. The COVID-19 pandemic is still far from under control in most developing countries due to a lag in vaccination rates and the uneven recovery from the pandemic-induced economic recession.
Luigi Zingales writes: If an evil mind were to engineer the perfect virus to wipe out an animal species, it would choose the optimal combination of transmissibility and infection fatality rate. But to eliminate humanity, the evil mind would have to develop a virus capable of neutralizing human responses to it – not just individual responses (which are insufficient to deal with a pandemic) but collective ones, too. A perfectly engineered killer virus thus would be able to exploit the inefficiencies in our collective decision-making. As it happens, that is what the SARS-CoV-2 virus appears to have achieved.
Paul Dyer, Isaac Schaider, and Andrew Letzkus write: Since multiple vaccines for COVID-19 became available at the end of 2020, countries across the world have struggled to ensure that their populations have access to sufficient quantities of the vaccines.
Monika Chaudhary writes: In the 2011 census, the female literacy rate in India was 65.2 per cent. The school dropout rate for girls was 52.2 per cent. The reasons cited for the high dropout rate included the high cost of education, household or subsistence labour, desire to work, early marriage, school accessibility, safety, sanitation concerns in schools and a lack of interest in studies.
go to East Asia Forum: COVID-19 rolls back progress on female education in India (eastasiaforum.org)
Alizan Mahadi writes: Last week, amid the record number of Covid-19 cases, Malaysia presented its progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to the United Nations. While some may question the relevance of long-term and lofty targets when Malaysia and the world are grappling with a crisis, it would be myopic if the link between the current crisis and development is not made.
go to ISIS: SDGs can guide our Covid-19 recovery – ISIS
Xirui Li writes: Intergovernmental cooperation between the United States and China was an important part of the fight against Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003. Yet serious collaboration to combat COVID-19 is yet to materialise. The state of US–China bilateral relations and the failure to cooperate has arguably worsened the pandemic.
go to East Asia Forum: Why China and the United States aren’t cooperating on COVID-19 (eastasiaforum.org)
Jamie MacLeod, Vera Songwe, Stephen Karingi, Hopestone Chavula, Jean Paul Boketsu Bofili, Sokunpanha You, and Veerawin Su write for Brookings: India is unlikely to be the last country encountering catastrophic outbreaks as the COVID-19 pandemic persists and evolves. The lessons from India’s experience are especially relevant to other developing countries, like those in Africa, that will not benefit from the shield of mass vaccination in the near term. The overarching lesson is that COVID-19 is a “complacency virus”; its surveillance and suppression must be continually adapted.
Mudit Kapoor and Shamika Ravi write for Brookings: India has been struck hard by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic—daily cases and deaths peaked at more than 400,000 cases and 4,000 deaths, respectively, almost four to five times higher than the peak number of cases and deaths in the first wave. The second wave was largely attributed to complacency by the Indian government. As important as this may have been, it is crucial to examine the role of the media during the pandemic. In particular, what were the discussion topics on the eve of the second wave, and was COVID-19 a fading topic of discussion when the tragedy struck? In this paper, we answer this question and discuss how inadequate media coverage may have slowed India’s COVID-19 response.