Vietnam and innovation in COVID-19 testing

Klingler-Vidra, R., Tran, B. and Uusikyla, I.
Publication language
Date published
03 Dec 2021
BMJ Innovations

Vietnam made global headlines for its effective management of the first wave of COVID-19. Now, at the time of writing in Spring 2021, although there are occasional instances of imported cases in the headlines, in Vietnam the country’s battle with the virus is often spoke of in past tense. After all, the country has responded effectively to each wave, by implementing localised, targeted lockdowns in an effort to quell outbreaks, and through a combination of government, business sector and grassroots innovation that lessened the spread of the virus and ameliorated the impact of the lockdown. To give context to the scale of Vietnam’s tremendous response, through June 2020 the country had fewer than 400 cases and 0 deaths. While the ultimate outcome from the pandemic remains to be seen, we believe there are important lessons to be learnt by analysing the determinants of Vietnam’s innovative actions to flatten the curve. In this review, we distil five lessons: (1) a shared purpose is an essential motivator, (2) grassroots and small business entrepreneurs are important innovators, (3) multistakeholder collaboration is a powerful force, (4) contextual innovation is essential, and (5) the state is a key enabler of timely innovation. We focus, in particular, on the case of innovation occurring in affordable COVID-19 test kit development in Vietnam.