AmCham Vietnam wants to provide a safe environment for events and business networking. We recognized that there was always a risk of a second outbreak, and we definitely experienced one. We also know that we all have different comfort levels with respect to the changing situation. 

In response, AmCham has a rating system for all of our events, explained in the link below. https://www.amchamvietnam.com/amcham-event-level-rating/ We hope the rating system is useful to you in making your own decisions about which events in which you would like to participate. As always, we welcome your feedback at team@amchamvietnam.com.

We encourage U.S. citizens to check the Embassy’s COVID-19 page daily for information, and register or update their information in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). The AmCham website has links to this page, as well as many other reliable sources of COVID-19 information.

Some additional tips below from Dr. Mason Cobb, Vice-Chair, and Dr. Andy Meadows, of AmCham Healthcare Committee. Vietnam seems to have turned the corner and has won another battle in the fight against COVID-19. There have been no new community-based cases in over a week, a milestone cited by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc. Da Nang, the epicenter of the outbreak, is opening up from lockdown and now receiving visitors and airline travelers again. The bars and clubs are open in HCMC and there are near-normal traffic levels and noticeably less mask wearing. For the first time in nearly 6 months, the country will allow some travelers in limited numbers from designated countries and defined reasons.  

Last week was a sad reminder of the 9/11 attacks in USA in New York and the Pentagon in 2001. As massive and tragic as it was and how its impact lingers for us, we lose the equivalent number of lives every few days to COVID-19.

World-wide and in Vietnam, the risk of recurrence of this pandemic stubbornly continues. A safe and effective vaccine is still needed to light a path out of the pandemic. Months of illness, fatalities, economic pain, and lockdowns have led to frantic levels of hope, optimism, and rhetoric surrounding vaccine development. A more cautious and realistic reckoning of the journey ahead suggests that progress is steady, but not likely to produce a miracle.

Just last week, one of the most prominent Phase 3 vaccine trials was paused after one participant developed a severe neurologic syndrome, often seen with viral illnesses (or possibly their vaccines, since the vaccine, itself, is a weakened or dead virus). This incident is being fully investigated to determine if the experimental vaccine is the culprit. As the WHO has said, this shows that safety protocols are in place, effective, and being followed despite enormous external forces to market a vaccine at any cost. Regardless of how this particular case plays out, it is a healthy dose of reality for everyone that the path to a safe and effective vaccine may not be smooth nor as fast as we hope.

Beyond this setback, there are other more basic logistical considerations that will likely limit any vaccine miracle. First, vaccine nationalism is a furious game, with anticipation that vaccine-developing nations and other richer nations fulfiling their own needs first. This could limit COVID-19 disease victories in other countries.

Second, early vaccines are likely to be only partially effective and may only provide immunity for a limited time. The Russian vaccine may fall into that category, although trials are still in very early stages. Additionally, some segments of the population will avoid taking the vaccine or do not have the resources. These practical limitations reduce the overall immunity rate even further from the required “herd immunity” threshold of 60-70% of a population.

While the race for a vaccine continues a long path, more is being learned about treatments. Newer information on treatments include expanded steroid choices and definitive use in severe cases. Blood thinners are becoming standard in severe cases, as there are often clotting abnormalities. Human trials have begun with Ivermectin, an antiparasitic that is safe, cheap, and has strong anti-SARS-CoV-2 activity in the lab. Remdesivir is recommended earlier in the course of the disease. As more data is gathered, masks can be considered a “pre-vaccine”; they definitely cut the risk of catching the disease and it is much milder if contracted. 

While early vaccines may not be magic bullets to return life to normal, steady progress can and will be made over time. Along with established procedures like mask wearing, hand hygiene, some social distancing, and truthful and consistent public health messaging, the world can avoid a costly repeat of early 2020.