National changes

Vietnam: COVID19 Success Story

Home to 100 million people, Vietnam’s first case arrived from China on January 23. Since, they’ve had a TOTAL of 1,059 cases and 35 deaths. Also, 93% of Vietnamese people believed the government responded very well.

So, what did they do? They had a bit different approach than the United States (and S. Korea and New Zealand, see previous posts). Their response can be categorized into 5 buckets:

Investment in public health BEFORE the pandemic

  • Vietnam has invested an average rate of 9% per year into public health since 2000. This resulted in an increased life expectancy, decreased infant mortality, 97% immunization rate, and an extremely low obesity rate.
  • After SARS (even though they were the first country to be declared SARS free), they invested even more including the development of a national public health emergency system, including a hospital reporting network.

Early action

  • BEFORE cases were even identified in the country, Vietnam limited mobility within the country and implemented closures.
  • 1 week after the first case, travel to and from China was closed
  • 1 week after the first case schools were closed
  • 12 days after the first case, trains were stopped

Contact tracing and testing

  • A uniquely comprehensive contact tracing program included not only identifying an index case, but identifying everyone up to 5 degrees removed from the index case.
  • 2 weeks from the first case, Vietnam developed their first diagnostic COVID19 testing kit
  • When an index case was identified, there was widespread local testing. No cases were missed.


  • Vietnam not only quarantined based on symptoms, but also by epidemiological risk of infection. Because there is about 40% of the population without symptoms, this likely attributed a LOT to their success.
  • Like New Zealand, Vietnam provided quarantine facilities to over 200,000 people

Clear communication. To me, this was the most interesting aspect of Vietnam’s response.

  • Before there was 1 case in Vietnam, the Ministry of Health warned citizens of the serious threat. This set the scene.
  • In February, the national Health Department released a pop song called “Ghen Co Vy” meaning “Jealous Coronavirus” and turned it into a handwashing public service announcement. Here is the wonderful 3 min campaign:
  • The health department also used social media and text messages for clear and concise messages like “Fighting the epidemic is like fighting against the enemy”

Absolutely incredible. Get it Vietnam!!

Love, YLE

For more detail on the response:

Here is the previous post on the New Zealand success story:

And here is the previous post on South Korea success story:

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