Vietnam has probably been the miracle story of the COVID-19 pandemic, as despite sharing a border with China and not being economically capable of carrying out mass testing, Vietnam had a very small outbreak of COVID-19 and most staggeringly no deaths. This praise comes with a caveat however as what Vietnam lacked in resources it made up for with authoritarianism, utilising their well respected military, strong surveillance culture and a citizenship willing to inform local authorities of their neighbours lockdown misbehaviour. The government were able to impose a strict 14-day national quarantine that was largely adhered to, and used clear communication and tapped into Vietnamese nationalism and a wartime temperaments to earn compliancy.
While seemingly harsh, this immediate, clear and organised reaction has gained praise internationally and mirrors Vietnams earlier success in dealing with SARS in 2003, Vietnam being the first country to be cleared of this earlier outbreak. Immediacy, effective isolation policy, government financial support, transparency and a high level of charity helped Vietnam rapidly overcome COVID-19 while protecting the most vulnerable, in stark contrast to China, the US and Europe where cover-ups, indecision and inadequate or misguided government support enabled the virus to thrive. In this way Vietnam may have imposed a heavy handed authoritarian response, but it is one that worked.
Pros – Swift strict reaction, good communication, high level of charity, low cost
Cons – Authoritarian, some outbreaks of Anti-Chinese sentiment, illegal mask manufacture and fraudulent testing kit transactions, reliant on citizen informing authorities, authoritarian response