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Ambassador's interviews with CPV Online (7 August 2020)

Posted on: August 07, 2020 | Back | Print

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Q1. Dear Ambassador, as a person who is living and working in Vietnam and is directly witnessing Vietnam’s progress as well as response to the COVID-19 pandemic, what are your assessments of Vietnam’s combat as well as the effectiveness of preventing COVID-19 pandemic in Vietnam? In your opinion, why is Vietnam coping so well with the coronavirus?

Amb: First of all, I would like to thank CPV online for this interview. This is my first interview with your channel.

I've been in Hanoi for the last one year. And much of that now is spent in the midst of COVID-19. But in many ways as foreigners, we all feel very safe to be in Vietnam because Vietnam has been able to manage the COVID-19 so well. Despite the second wave of infections, which recently started, Vietnam has done well in controlling the spread of the disease. 

Vietnam’s success may be attributable to some very early and decisive actions taken by it. Vietnam also took very concerted actions to ensure widespread testing, contact-tracing, quarantining and a whole-of-Government and whole-of-society mobilization against the pandemic.

Q2. Could you share your assessments of Vietnam’s responsibility and cooperation with other countries in the world in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic?

Amb: As a responsible member of the international community, Vietnam has played a constructive role in dealing with this global challenge. After having successfully managed the pandemic at home, Vietnam has proactively shared its positive experience with other countries. Vietnam has also taken the initiative in gifting masks and other medical equipment to international partners, including the Indian Red Cross Society. We are thankful for this gesture.

Between India and Vietnam, we are also sharing a lot of COVID-19 related experiences with each other. We have organized on-line capacity building programmes related to COVID-19 management in which we have invited Vietnamese participants to join.  Our military medical departments have held tele-conferences to learn from each other’s best practices about COVID-19 management.  Vietnam’s handling of COVID-19 has been recognized widely.  India also has its own capacity in pharmaceutical and vaccine production and has developed a large amount of clinical experience in understanding the pandemic. All these are areas where we continue exchanging views with each other. 

Q3. There is a perception that Vietnam has had initial success in the fight against COVID-19 and it will "bounce" back faster after the pandemic. What do you think about it?

Amb: The fact that Vietnam has so far been able to deal with the crisis successfully clearly gives the country a head-start compared to other countries, even though the new round of infections has once again disrupted lives in many central provinces, especially in Da Nang, which make significant economic contributions for the country. But in general, I think the fact that people in Vietnam have been able to get back to some degree of normalcy much before other countries, has allowed domestic economic activities to be revived.  Once the situation normalizes externally, Vietnam will be well-placed to engage with the world immediately because it has got time to recover and revive its economy.

Q4. Could you share the COVID-19 situation in India and measures that the Government of India has implemented to fight COVID-19?

Amb: COVID-19 has affected India, just as it has affected many other countries. The steps taken by Government of India to deal with the pandemic span all three fronts – healthcare, livelihood, particularly of those belonging to marginalized and vulnerable sections of society, and economic revival.

If you look at just the number of COVID-19 infections in India, it does not present you the real picture, unless you realize that you are looking at a country of over 1.3 billion population. Our recovery rates have now gone over 68%. Our case fatality rate has gradually come down to less than 2.1%, which is way below the global average of more than 5%. This has been possible due to some very decisive and early actions taken by the Government, including actions taken to restrict movement and an unprecedented national lockdown, to prevent the spread of the virus.

The pandemic itself has led to a significant capacity added to our health infrastructure.  To give you an example, today we are testing almost 1 million people every day which is a huge number of people being tested and also one of the reasons why we are finding more cases in India.  The world’s largest COVID hospital today is in India – a 10,000 bed hospital in Delhi.  Production of medical supplies has reached unprecedented levels. For example, we were not making any PPE kits in India until January. Today we are producing 500,000 PPE kits per day and even exporting some of these to other countries. 

On the medical front, India is also actively engaged in researching for vaccines. Our two vaccines have already reached human trial stage and the initial feedback is encouraging. As the “pharmacy of the world”, India produces 20% of world’s generic medicines and 62% of all global vaccines. India is therefore going to play a leading role in these efforts. Already, to manage the pandemic, we are supplying supportive medicines to almost 150 countries all over the world. 

On the livelihood side, Government is extending support to a large number of our people who are not well-off and have been hit badly by the pandemic, particularly the migrant workers. Government has launched a food security programme to provide free food worth $20 billion. Similarly, Government has given $25 billion of support under the Prime Minister’s Poor Welfare Programme, which includes $6 billion of loans extended to more than 300 million farmers. 

Thirdly, on economic revival, some very concrete and transformative steps are being taken. Prime Minister Modi has laid the vision of a “human-centric globalization” for economic revival with care and compassion. He has also envisioned a “self-reliant India” – Aatma Nirbhar Bhaarat as it is called in Hindi – which is self-sustaining and resilient, not by isolating India, but by building capacities at home so that India can integrate better with global value chains.

Prime Minister Modi also believes, and he has spoken about it recently, that India’s revival must lead the global revival.  Given India’s size, capacities and ambitions, it has to be a major factor in global revival.  And the steps that we are taking in India are not incremental; they are transformative steps, including some very focussed attention to transform the agricultural sector and micro, small and medium enterprises.

As Prime Minister Modi has envisioned, this pandemic can be an opportunity in the midst of the crisis by positioning India to be a major contributor for global revival and global well-being.  We are welcoming foreign investors and partners to take advantage of the openness, opportunities and options that India offers to the world today. This is the vision with which we are moving forward.