Anti-Chinese rhetoric chills Vietnam’s vaccines enthusiasm

By Eric San Juan

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, Aug 16 (EFE).- Vietnam’s enthusiasm for vaccines cooled in recent days when Ho Chi Minh City authorities began administering Chinese company Sinopharm’s doses, rejected by some of the population.

The distrust was revealed Friday, when a viral social media video showed angry citizens leaving a vaccination center when it was announced Sinopharm, not AstraZeneca jabs, would be used that day.

Since the inoculation of 1 million doses of the Chinese pharmaceutical company began, many centers have become half-empty, very different from the previous days, when neighbors waited their turn for hours before AstraZeneca and Moderna vaccines ran out.

Vietnam, one of the countries that took the longest to launch its vaccination campaign, has accelerated it in the last two months, following the worst Covid-19 outbreak since the pandemic began.

The greatest advances have been made in Ho Chi Minh City, its most populated city and the main source of infection, where almost 70 percent of the 8 million officially registered inhabitants have already received the first dose.

The slowness in vaccinations is being generalized in Southeast Asia, with some exceptions, which led Wednesday to the Red Cross demanding that developed countries donate their excess vaccines to nations in the region, which has been hit by the delta variant.

In the Thao Dien neighborhood vaccination center, last week’s overflowing waiting areas are lately empty, despite information at the entrance explaining the vaccine complies with all World Health Organization requirements.

The suspicion contrasts with the general enthusiasm for vaccines, with 98 percent of the population willing to receive them (the largest in the world), according to a study in medical journal The Lancet published in February.

“I don’t want to have anything to do with China. It’s true that I use products made in China, but it’s different, I don’t want anything that comes from there to be injected into my body,” said Sa Nguyen, a 35-year-old who works in advertising in Ho Chi Minh City, which since June has suffered the country’s worst outbreak since the start of the pandemic.

As the rest of employees in his agency, Nguyen will wait for the availability of other vaccines and justified his rejection on anti-Chinese nationalism he shares with a large part of the population. This is especially true in the south of the country, after centuries of warfare and the aggravation of territorial disputes in the South China Sea in recent years.

“For a long time in southern Vietnam we have hated the Chinese for the things they do to us. They try to take away our land and our islands,” he said.

Despite his furious rejection of China, Nguyen said Sinopharm vaccines in Vietnam are safe and effective and blamed poor communication from the government for the increase in mistrust in a large part of the population who do not feel the same animosity as those in the north.

“It is a vaccine validated by the WHO, but when people see that it comes from China they think it is of poor quality. The government has only reported through the media that it has imported vaccines from Sinopharm, but it has not done a good enough job, ” he said. EFE


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