TAIPEI – Asian countries are reporting record COVID-19 waves this year compared to 2020, as vaccination campaigns dwindle and governments lose hope that mass closures and border controls can keep the coronavirus at bay. area observers.
The spread of the delta variant from India, an infection among airline personnel and citizens who brought back the virus from travel, coincided with the recent outbreaks in parts of Asia with the COVID-19 spread. Containment measures were eased in some places after months of low caseloads, while domestic travel picked up.
Authorities from Bangkok to Taipei shrugged off vaccine purchases last year while Western countries prepare to make the shots so widespread that England is now 87% vaccinated and almost no adults in the United States have local You can get the shot from the drugstore.
Many Asian countries have prevented respiratory disease in 2020 by stopping foreign tourists and closing places where people gather. Manufacturing-dependent Asian economies came to a halt last year due to a lack of prolonged work stoppages.
“I call it the curse of complacency,” said Thitinen Pongsudhirak, a professor of political science at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok.
“Thailand did so well during the virus phase last year that it sat on its laurels and was behind the curve in vaccine procurement,” he told VOA.
According to the Our World in Data Research website, Thailand has only fully vaccinated 5% of its population, with Vietnam at about 1%. Vietnam set a one-day coronavirus infection record of 5,926 on July 18, while Thailand posted its own record of 11,397 on the same day.
In Taiwan, which reported its first major COVID-19 wave in May, by mid-July only 0.5% of people had received two shots and 20% had received one shot.
In the Philippines, which has battled COVID-19 relentlessly for more than a year, daily caseloads have held up to nearly 5,000 after an earlier spike. Malaysia touched a one-day record of 13,215 cases on July 15. Both have strict community quarantine rules.
News reports said Asian countries are now fighting to get the vaccine as Western pharmaceutical companies are busy filling orders in other parts of the world, governments in Asia are slow to grant permits to domestic drug firms, and their citizens Worried about side effects. There is a shortage of cold storage in some places.
Many have turned to donations or rush orders from China, Japan and the United States. Taiwan and Vietnam aim to release domestically produced vaccines to increase supply. Japan offers Vietnam $1.8 million for vaccine cold storage Vietnam Insider the news website said in May.
“I think slowly” [Vietnam] Will be fine as people are doing in Europe and America,” said Phuong Hong, 40, a travel sector worker in Ho Chi Minh City who spends 95% of his time at home with four family members as they all Waiting for the text message. The government is telling them when they are eligible for the vaccine.
“It has to be fast, but I think the distribution channels — they also need to understand how to store the vaccine,” she said.
In Indonesia, the government has accepted vaccines from China and other sources, but the country’s absolute vaccination rate is just 6%. On 15 July, Indonesia recorded a daily caseload of 56,757.
Citizens have a list of misconceptions, said Paramita Supamijoto, an international relations lecturer at Bina Nusantara University in Jakarta. They believe that vaccines are not halal, according to Islamic rules about what a person should eat, or that COVID-19 is a “hoax” in itself. Indonesians with possible symptoms avoid hospitals, he said, because they are full.
“It’s really complicated here in Indonesia, in general,” Supamijoto said. “You don’t know who is standing next to you or sitting next to you” [are] healthy or not.”
Southeast Asia, with a population of 660 million, is now facing a new round of economic inaction due to business closures and stay-at-home orders to contain the virus. The Asian Development Bank said this month it had lowered Southeast Asia’s forecast for 2021 economic growth to 4.0% from 4.4% “as some countries reimpose pandemic restrictions.”
Rajiv Biswas said, “Countries have been affected a lot in terms of their economies and the impact is growing, so I would say unlike what is happening in the US and Europe, where things have gotten much better.” , Chief Economist for Asia-Pacific at IHS Markit.
Biswas said the rise in cases of delta variants brought from India through frequent travel has added to the crisis in Southeast Asia. He said, however, that most Asian countries are far from last year’s “total lockdown” because of the economic impacts.
Asian governments say the supply of the vaccine should increase in the second half of the year. Thai officials said in June that they would fulfill an earlier pledge for doses by the end of this month, while Taiwan’s president has set a target to vaccinate 25% of the island’s population by July 31.
Vietnam anticipates providing 110 million doses by December, although still short of its target of 150 million doses for 75% of the population, Vietnam Insider Report.
The economic slowdown is “not permanent,” said Song Seung Woon, an economist at Malaysian bank CIMB’s private banking unit, and added, “We will be back once the vaccine rollout comes.”