Health Ministry proposes countermeasures against COVID-19 hinh anh 1According to the World Health Organisation, COVID-19 ‘may never go away’. (Photo: VietnamPlus)

Hanoi (VNA) - The Ministry of Health has said vaccines will be an effective measure to reduce severe COVID-19 cases and fatalities, building two scenarios in the time to come.

The Ministry of Health said it is gathering opinions of members of the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control and relevant agencies to fine-tune the health care plans responding to the development of COVID-19 this year and next.

Two response plans

The Health Ministry recently issued a public dispatch asking for opinions of members of the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control, the People’s Committees of 63 provinces and cities nationwide and relevant agencies under the Ministry regarding a health care plan in response to COVID-19 situations in the two years.

The plan will be built based on that of the World Health Organisation, plans of some other countries and the pandemic situation in Vietnam in line with Resolution No 38/NQ-CP. 

The first scenario states that in case the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 continues to mutate but the number of severe cases and deaths declines thanks to herd immunity, rendering COVID-19 outbreaks less dangerous.

The other one considers the appearance of new mutants that can dent the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccine and the immunity, prompting the increase of severe cases and fatalities, especially among the vulnerable.

Vaccine remains an effective measure

In both cases, the Ministry of Health attached importance on the use of vaccines to bring down the number of severe cases and death toll. It is working to obtain high vaccination coverage across all eligible age groups, particularly the vulnerable and high-risk groups, viewing it as a foundation to gradually ease medical and social restrictions.

The Health Ministry put forward key activities in the first plan, including the fourth vaccine shots for adults; the third shot for children between 5 and 18 years old; and a vaccination campaign for children aged 3-5, which is set to be rolled out this year.

It will keep a close watch and bolster testing to timely detect alarming mutants and changes in the disease as well as efficiency of interventions. Gene sequencing will be conducted at major supervisory locations to better understand the development of the virus. The Ministry will also keep an eye on the animals contracting COVID-19, including pets and those in the wild.

In addition, the Health Ministry will propose the continuation of pandemic prevention and control measures promulgated in the Government’s Resolution No.128. It may ease some restrictions and create favourable conditions for relevant organisations, agencies, firms and individuals.

Regarding the second plan, the Ministry will closely join hands with the World Health Organisation and vaccine manufacturers to improve vaccine efficacy in response to new coronavirus mutants and promptly report to the Government so as to receive permission to procure more vaccines.

Inoculation drives will be sped up, especially booster shots for senior citizens of over 65, those with underlying diseases, and those that are fully vaccinated more than three months.

The ministry will keep a close eye on pandemic situations across the globe as well as the penetration of new mutants at border gates and border areas. Efforts will be made to quickly detect COVID-19 cases in the community, and improve health care capacity, particularly preventive medicine and at grassroots level.

Incentives for medical workers are also high on the agenda.

Remote examination and treatment will be bolstered to increase the success rate of saving COVID-19 patients in case they cannot come to the medical establishments in person.

Shifting to sustainable disease management 

Among ASEAN nations, some have issued criteria to consider COVID-19 as endemic. In Indonesia, the rate of used hospital beds must be under 5 percent and positive cases have to stand below 1 percent of the population.

Thailand will scrap COVID-19 testing and mask requirements starting July 1, with an exception for people contracting the disease.

At present, the number of new cases has been on the decline, so have serious cases and deaths connected to COVID-19. Meanwhile, vaccine coverage is on an upward trend./.