Journal : Global Times (Chinese) Date : Author : Special correspondents in Malaysia, India, and Germany Zhang Hao Hubo Feng Aoki, Reporters Shuang Hao Yan Chen Kang Wang Wei Page No. : NA
URL : NA

There is a new change in the global epidemiological map of Newcastle pneumonia. While the pandemic in the U.S. and Europe, where the virus was rampant last year, has gradually subsided, many Asian countries, which were once considered “model students of pandemic prevention,” are experiencing outbreaks of the disease…………………

Pandemic a concern  in Asia’s “model children”

South Korea’s “Asean Economy” said on the 1st that western countries such as the United States and Europe have entered a stable or even declining phase of the pandemic because of the speed of vaccination, while Asian countries, which were called “model students” in fighting the pandemic last year, are now experiencing an outbreak. In recent days, nearly half of the world’s new confirmed cases come from Asia every day, not only India, but also Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and other Southeast Asian countries are rapidly increasing new cases………….

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Reuters said the number of confirmed cases in parts of Asia has risen sharply recently, forcing the region to impose new restrictions and many factories to close. Thailand had won praise for containing the first wave of the outbreak, but now its death toll has increased tenfold in the past two months. Bangkok announced on the evening of May 31 that it had withdrawn plans made last month to reopen on June 1 because of the worsening outbreak. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte also announced the same day the extension of a localized lockdown in the capital Manila and surrounding provinces until the end of June to contain the peak of the outbreak that has been seen since April.

“The infection rates in Asia, especially in Southeast Asian countries, are alarming in many countries,” Maseo, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Asia Pacific, told Reuters, “and the more dangerous and deadly variant of the virus underscores the urgency of global vaccine sharing and production at a faster pace. This is the only way to contain this outbreak and avoid mass casualties.”

Asian Outbreak Threatens Global Supply Chain?

“The new wave of the Asian pandemic threatens the global supply chain,” Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of the 1st stated that the rapid increase in confirmed cases in Asian countries and regions may disrupt global supply chains such as chips and medicines. More and more ports in India have been shut down, mobile phone production in Vietnam is on the verge of being interrupted, and the logistics hub Singapore is also under threat.

South Korea’s “Asian Economy” stated that Japan’s Toyota and Honda Motors have closed their car factories in Malaysia because of the severe pandemic. The speed of the spread of the pandemic in Thailand and Vietnam is also worrying.  South Korean companies that have a large number of investments in Vietnam, in particular, are sounding the alarm. The main production plants of Samsung and Apple in Vietnam are temporarily closed due to the pandemic.

Japan’s Toyota and Honda Motor have closed their car plants in Malaysia because of the severity of the outbreak, according to South Korea’s Asean Economy. The speed of the spread of the pandemic in Thailand and Vietnam is equally worrying, especially as South Korean companies with large investments in Vietnam are sounding the alarm. Both Samsung and Apple’s major production plants in Vietnam have been temporarily closed due to the outbreak.

Xu Liping, a researcher at the Institute of Asia-Pacific and Global Strategies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said in an interview with the Huan Qiu Shi Bao reporter on the 1st that the recent deterioration of the pandemic in Asia is closely related to the pandemic in India. These countries are adjacent to India and have very close economic, trade and personnel exchanges. The second outbreak of the pandemic in India has directly contributed to the deterioration of the pandemic in Asia.…………………

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Bloomberg said the biggest dilemma in Asia is the low coverage of vaccines, whether it is inability or unwillingness to vaccinate, which affects outbreak prevention and control. The report quoted Samuel, head of emerging markets research at Deutsche Bank, as saying, “While Asian countries succeeded in preventing the outbreak last year by strategies such as contact tracing, rapid screening and maintaining social distance, they now face the challenge of a surge in confirmed cases”.

The Financial Times says Asia is lagging behind in the vaccine race. Compared to 90 doses per 100 people in the UK, Japan has only 6.3 doses, and Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines have even fewer vaccinations. The relative success of many Asian countries in fighting the pandemic last year means there is less political pressure to vaccinate in those countries, the report said. In addition, Asian countries (except China) also lack global-type pharmaceutical companies capable of developing, conducting clinical trials globally and manufacturing vaccines on a large scale, and many Asian countries want to wait for European and American vaccines.

“Eyes on China”

To control the outbreak, many Asian countries have accelerated vaccination in addition to strict preventive and control measures. Singapore’s “United Morning Post” reported that the Malaysian government said on the 1st it would set up five large vaccination centers in Kuala Lumpur, striving to vaccinate 150,000 people on a single day. In Singapore, the government decided on January 1 that adults aged 60 and above can go directly to any of the vaccination centers without an appointment, and the new government also approved private doctors to introduce all WHO-approved vaccines for people to be vaccinated.

However, many countries lack sufficient vaccines. As of May 30, Vietnam had administered less than 1.04 million doses of vaccine to its citizens, and only about 1 percent of the country’s population had received a single dose. The Hindustan Times said the Indian government’s senior legal adviser Mehta said on May 31 that the Modi government “plans to complete vaccination of all eligible people by the end of this year.” However, Bloomberg said on May 1, India’s vaccination rate  suffered a sharp decline in May. About 55.3 million people were vaccinated in India in May, a 28.7 percent drop compared to April. The report said the above situation was related to the shortage of vaccines in India.

Asian countries are turning their attention to China,” the German weekly “Focus” pointed out on the 1st, although the United States and European countries are promoting the “Indo-Pacific strategy”, promising to increase help to the region. But in the midst of the pandemic, the United States has banned the export of vaccines. Instead, Beijing is using vaccine exports to help its neighbors. Beijing has already provided 800,000 doses of the new corona vaccine to Nepal. Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand have all received Chinese vaccines. Given the West’s reluctance to help and India’s embargo on vaccine exports, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has countered the claim that “China is engaging in vaccine diplomacy” by saying, “If we don’t depend on China, then who can we depend on?”

On June 1, the first 160,000 doses of the new corona vaccine were delivered to CO⁃VAX, which has pledged to supply 2 billion doses of the vaccine to the world by the end of 2021, but implementation has been slow due to a lack of vaccines. China officially joined COVAX last October, and on May 7 this year, the Chinese vaccine was certified for emergency use by WHO. Currently, the Chinese vaccine is approved for use in more than 70 countries and regions, covering 196 country populations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on May 1 that Kexin vaccine was on the “emergency use list”. As of May 31, nearly 40 countries and regions around the world have received more than 430 million doses of Kexin vaccine, Kexin said on the same day.

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