Long Covid: Contamination, contagion, and the politics of corruption during the Covid-19 pandemic in Vietnam (January 2020 to now)

Date & Time

24.4.2023, 15:00 CET


Trainee Centre 


The Covid-19 pandemic can be divided into three main phases in Vietnam. The initial phase, in spring-summer 2020, was benign and well under control, largely because of adequate government preparations based on previous experiences with SARS and avian flu, and close collaboration with the United Nations and the World Health Organization. The second phase (spring-fall 2021) saw a rapid increase in cases of the highly contagious Delta variant, and subsequent socioeconomic and policy-making challenges, especially given the initial lack of available vaccines. These culminated in series of haphazard and uncoordinated administrative and public health decisions, overwhelmed healthcare systems, and blunders in setting up and supervising large-scale, harsh lockdowns in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City and southern Vietnamese provinces. The third, ongoing phase of Covid-19 is the fallout from an ongoing political crisis in the aftermath of the pandemic. Covid-19 exacerbated numerous existing social, political and economic issues in Vietnam. Thus, we can reframe this pandemic not simply as a unique and enormously disruptive health event, but as a complex set of interconnected and self-reinforcing ongoing crises. In other words, the “new normal” and the “reopening” of the economy to foreign investment and foreign tourism cannot simply mask the deep, structural socioeconomic inequalities that predated and intensified this pandemic crisis. These issues will be examined at the local level of Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City and surrounding provinces, focusing on employment, education, healthcare and social issues. Specific references will be made to the informal sector, women’s work, and the impact of political corruption and “official” illegalities on the pandemic response.