SEATTLE, Washington — Mongolia is a nation settled between two powerful countries: China and Russia. Known for its rugged terrain and nomadic culture, Mongolia was able to avoid any transmission of COVID-19 cases for ten months. This, however, took a turn in the spring of 2021 with cases rising to numbers that had not yet been seen in the country. With a sudden spike in cases threatening Mongolia’s fragile economy, neighboring countries aided public health efforts in Mongolia by answering the Mongolian government’s call for vaccines. As a result, vaccinations in Mongolia began in earnest.
COVID-19 and its Impact on Mongolia
Mongolian officials were especially wary of their underperforming healthcare system before any cases were even found in Mongolia. In addition, Mongolia also has the world’s longest land border with China. With a steady stream of people crossing the border each day between Mongolia and China, the government of Mongolia had to quickly prioritize protecting its people from the spread of the virus. When Mongolia was finally hit with COVID-19 cases similar to those in other countries, the shock of it greatly impacted the Mongolian labor market structure and shook the economic stability of the country.
The World Bank’s Mongolia Economic Update report showed that low-skilled workers living just above the national poverty line had fallen below the line into poverty because of the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their careers. However, by the end of 2021, the report estimates economic growth that will take place due to government stimulus measures will assist impoverished people. Along with this, the introduction of vaccinations in Mongolia will also contribute to economic growth.
Economic Ties: Critical for Vaccine Acquisition
With the country in a state of crisis, the Mongolian foreign minister turned towards China and Russia for help. Because of China’s reliance on Mongolian coal production, Mongolia gained priority in China’s vaccine distribution plan. A donation of 300,000 Sinopharm vaccines was sent from China to Mongolia. Afterward, Mongolia reached an agreement with Russia to purchase one million doses of Russia’s Sputnik vaccine while days later also getting approved for 330,000 more doses of China’s Sinopharm vaccine. China and Russia weren’t the only countries to donate vaccines to Mongolia. Thanks to a strategic partnership formed in 2015, India donated 15,000 AstraZeneca vaccines in February 2021. Because of additional donations from the COVAX initiative and continued national purchasing of vaccines, the number of vaccinations in Mongolia has steadily reached past three million. Mongolia’s ability to grapple with foreign policies for vaccine diplomacy has certainly been demonstrated through its support from other countries and companies.
Looking Forward: Vaccinations in Mongolia
The new Mongolian prime minister, Oyun-Erdene Luvsannamsrai, aims to vaccinate every Mongolian citizen above the age of 18 as soon as possible, previously setting sights on July of 2021 as a possible completion date for the ambitious goal. With only a population of 3.2 million people, the number of citizens above 18 is 62% of the Mongolian population. 3,788,394 individual doses have been administered in Mongolia, which has been estimated to provide the nation with a majority of fully vaccinated citizens. With high numbers of vaccinated citizens, Mongolia hopes to see an upswing in its economic stability.
To prevent significant portions of its citizenship from falling below the poverty line, Mongolia utilized the benefits of alliances with its powerful neighbors, Russia and China, among others. With the acquisition of vaccinations in Mongolia from other countries, the Mongolian economy may be able to recover from the devastating blow COVID-19 caused to its labor force. Moreover, the nation as a whole may be permanently past its peak of cases, which could signal the start of a recovery in every major sector and beyond.
– Allie Degner