Swedish professor on why Vietnam is experiencing its first wave now

Matti Sällberg, professor of biomedical analysis, does not believe in a fourth wave in Sweden.
PHOTO: CAROLINA BYRMO

Most countries are somewhere in their third, fourth, or even fifth wave of the pandemic but Vietnam is only experiencing rapid infection rates now. On Friday, 7,307 cases of infection were registered which is almost a tenth of the country’s total number of cases during the entire pandemic. So far 370 people have died in the country linked to covid-19 and the Delta variant’s rapid take has seen larger cities being put on lockdown.

But why is Vietnam only experiencing its highest peak in the spread of infection now and not earlier in the pandemic? In an interview with media Aftonbladet, Swedish professor Matti Sällberg explains that there may be several reasons.

Matti Sällberg is a professor of biomedical analysis at Karolinska Institutet. He says that Vietnam is not the only country experiencing its highest peak in the spread of infections right now and that other Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand are also battling the Delta variant at the moment. “They are in a wave that risks having a huge impact, with high death rates. There are similarities with the first waves that passed over many countries just over a year ago,” Matti Sällberg says.

These countries have a more favorable climate than cold countries like Sweden, Denmark, and Norway and the professor is guessing that maybe the virus must look a certain way to be able to spread optimally in the conditions prevailing in those countries.

The Professor also explains that a clear wave can be seen in countries such as the UK, Spain, and the Netherlands but that we are not seeing a corresponding increase in the death rate like we have been before. “If you compare the curves, it is like night and day. And that can probably be explained by the rollout of vaccinations in those countries. If you look at the spread of the delta variant in countries with a lower vaccination rate, such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, you see the same mortality as we have seen in other countries before vaccinations,” Matti Sällberg says. The professor adds that vaccinations mean that those who are most fragile, are protected and no longer die.

Besides the low vaccination rate in Vietnam, the country has previously dealt with the pandemic in a very resolute way. The authorities have acted quickly in regards to virus outbreaks and closed areas have been monitored by the military.

But according to Swedish Nishte Wandi who lives in the coastal city of Hoi An, near the larger city of Da Nang, this time the authorities did not act as quickly as before.

“My opinion is that they may not have been really prepared for this and have lost control of the situation a bit. “It’s pretty tough actually. We were not prepared for this wave because we did so well before, Nishte Wandi says to Aftonbladet TV.

About Mette Larsen

ScandAsia Journalist • Scandinavian Publishing Co., Ltd. • Thailand

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