China, India and Russia Donate COVID-19 Vaccines to Myanmar Military

By The Irrawaddy 18 August 2021

Myanmar’s military has received over 400,000 COVID-19 vaccines donated by the Chinese, Indian and Russian armed forces, with more jabs from China in the pipeline, according to the military regime’s spokesperson.

“The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will give another 400,000 doses next week,” said Major-General Zaw Min Tun on Monday.

The Maj-Gen. told The Irrawaddy that China’s PLA donated 200,000 jabs to the Myanmar military in May.

At the time, the junta said in a statement that the PLA had donated 500,000 vaccine doses and that they would be distributed to hospitals across the country.

However, the statement didn’t mention a quota of vaccines for the military and it’s unclear whether the 200,000 jabs for the Myanmar military was part of the 500,000 doses or a separate consignment. In July, China donated a further two million vaccines.

India’s military also donated 200,000 jabs to the Myanmar military on February 11, said the Maj-Gen. On the same day, India shipped two million vaccines out of 30 million that the ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) government had bought. In January, India also donated 1.5 million doses to the then civilian government.

The Russian military has donated 900 vaccines to its Myanmar counterpart as well, said Maj-Gen. Zaw Min Tun.

“We mostly rely on donated vaccines. So far around 400,000 or 500,000 people have been vaccinated,” he said.

China, India and Russia all have good relations with the military regime. Both China and Russia have protected the junta at the United Nations (UN) Security Council, vetoing US and UK resolutions critical of the regime. India also has a warm relationship with the Myanmar military. In June, India abstained from voting on a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a halt on weapons sales to Myanmar.

It remains unknown how many members of Myanmar’s armed forces have been infected with coronavirus, as the military has been tight-lipped about the number of COVID-19 cases among its personnel.

When asked about the impact of the pandemic on the military, Maj-Gen. Zaw Min Tun said only that the number of infections was “nearly the same as the civilians have suffered” and that the situation was now under control.

But it is believed that the rank and file of the Myanmar military and their families have been hit hard by the pandemic, according to local media reports and Facebook posts by military victims of COVID-19. There have been reports of low-ranking personnel being turned away by overwhelmed military hospitals.

Myanmar continues to reel from the third wave of COVID-19, with 6,000 deaths reported nationwide in July. Over 3,000 people a day have tested positive for coronavirus since early this month.

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