The Covid-19 epidemic has forced Vietnamese and international policymakers to choose between protecting public health and economic health.
And most governments have prioritized public health over economic health since the Covid-19 epidemic. Last week, however, some countries in Europe began reopening the economy and President Donald Trump also proposed guidelines to restart the US economy.
While understanding that reopening the economy could increase the number of Covid-19 cases, governments, on the other hand, are concerned that the prolonged blockade even makes their citizens more miserable than confrontations with Covid-19.
In fact, governments are sometimes forced to take small risks to bring greater benefits to the whole society. Economists call this difficult choice a “Faustian Bargain” (deal with the devil).
For example, the number of people likely to die in car accidents in the US this year is nearly as high as the number of deaths expected by Covid-19 in the US this year. Imagine the US government can prevent almost all deaths from car accidents by imposing a 40km speed limit nationwide. However, in fact the speed limit in the US is higher than 40km because the US leaders have made a difficult choice – “Faustian Bargain”, in exchange for greater benefits to society from increasing the speed of travel. – and thereby increase productivity for goods and people.
Similarly, in Vietnam, the number of road traffic deaths is almost certainly higher than that of Covid-19 deaths because Vietnam is one of the countries with the highest fatality rate. The highest traffic accident in the world.
Meanwhile, Vietnam has the lowest Covid-19 mortality rate in the world. The non-application of the low speed limit in Vietnam shows that the Government has to put the interests of the whole society ahead.
And now, the government is having a difficult time balancing the economic damage of continuing social isolation, compared to the potential health costs of restarting the economy in the wake of an epidemic.