When COVID-19 first emerged, the speed at which it spread across the globe caught the world completely off-guard, triggering the worst global health crisis of our time.
On 30 January 2020, WHO declared the COVID-19 outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. As of 16 July, almost 200 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed globally, including more than four million deaths.
COVID-19 continues to threaten people’s lives in every aspect, in all corners of the world, with children most impacted. In East Asia and the Pacific, the latest wave of the pandemic rages on while changes dominate the landscape.
In mid-2020, Thailand planned its rollout plan to ensure the inoculation of 70 per cent of our adult population by the end of 2021, using millions of doses of locally produced AstraZeneca’s vaccine, together with imported vaccines procured through bilateral deals.
“From the legend of Rama to the wisdom of Buddha our ties are founded on a shared cultural heritage” -Prime Minister Narendra Modi
ASEAN countries were among the first to be affected by COVID-19. But for 18 months, we managed to keep the virus’s spread below levels experienced in other regions, accounting for less than 5 per cent of global cases and deaths.
It has been almost two years since the outbreak of the SARS-COV-2 virus, which caused the COVID-19 pandemic, and the global community is still battling against its devastating impact. So far, the disease has resulted in millions of cases and deaths worldwide, loss of livelihood, economic downturns, and disruptions in trade and the flow of essential goods and other supplies.
ASEAN has emerged as an important economic bloc with a concrete policy agenda for inclusive and sustainable development, but it is confronted with major challenges that its Member States must individually and collectively address to enable people in the region to achieve their full potential and well-being. This is highlighted in the inaugural issue of the ASEAN Development Outlook, which was officially launched on 23 August 2021.
Luz Rimban is a veteran journalist and executive director of the Asian Center for Journalism at the Ateneo de Manila University. She teaches journalism at the Ateneo Department of Communication.
Ms. Rimban writes about the dangers of spreading false information during the pandemic and the shared responsibility of both the media and the public in preventing it.
Ambassador Igor Driesmans discusses the goals and components of the ASEAN-EU cooperation on COVID-19 response, and explains the ongoing efforts of EU to increase ASEAN Member States’ access to safe and effective vaccines.
Dr. Vandine is the Chair of the Ad-Hoc Committee for Rolling Out COVID-19 Vaccination Throughout the Country (ACC-19), and Chair of the Sub-Committee of Education, Training, and Public Communication and Spokesperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee to Combat COVID-19.
Minister Budi G. Sadikin explains Indonesia’s strategy for securing an adequate and steady supply of COVID-19 vaccines, the progress of its national vaccination rollout, and approaches to addressing vaccine hesitancy. As current chair of the ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting, he also outlines key regional initiatives designed to facilitate Member States’ recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and enhance preparedness and resilience against future public health crises.