Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar Due to Begin COVID-19 Vaccinations

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 26 January 2021

Yangon – Myanmar will begin vaccinations against COVID-19 on Wednesday by inoculating health-care personnel, including volunteers on the coronavirus frontline, according to the Ministry of Health and Sports.

Around 750,000 people, including medics, volunteers, senior government figures, parliamentarians and some of the over-65s are due to be vaccinated within the next 10 days, according to Dr. Khin Khin Gyi, the director of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Epidemiology Unit.

Myanmar has more than 110,000 health-care personnel and more than 10,000 volunteers who are contributing to COVID-19 efforts.

More than 3.6 million citizens are over-65, she added.

Last Friday Myanmar received India’s gift of 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses called Covishield, manufactured by the Serum Institute of India after being developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca.

The first batch can cover 750,000 people, with two doses per person.

Dr. Khin Khin Gyi told The Irrawaddy that the health ministry has distributed vaccines and some areas would receive the doses today.

Medical staff with vaccination experience are administering the jabs, according to the ministry.

Medical teams will also be on hand to deal with adverse side-effects.

“We have planned secure and safe vaccinations,” said Dr. Khin Kh Gyi.

The government has been conducting demographic surveys to select priority groups for vaccinations.

In a televised speech last Thursday, Myanmar’s State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi warned that anyone vaccinated should continue to follow COVID-19 precautions until after their second dose within 28 days.

She called on people to continue to wear masks, wash their hands, avoid crowds and observe physical distancing.

“We are not sure about how effective the vaccines are or how long the vaccine will remain effective. So please take care of your health even after a vaccination,” said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

“Do not take the situation slightly. We have to try to get into the habit of living with care.”

Myanmar has ordered 30 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from the Serum Institute and paid US$75 million (100 billion kyats), half the amount of the order.

The vaccines are expected to arrive in early February, according to the health ministry.

Myanmar will also receive COVID-19 vaccines under the World Health Organization’s Covax affordable medicines program in March, Dr. Khin Khin Gyi said.

Myanmar will have to be supplied vaccines for 20 percent of its 54.4 million population under the Covax program and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, an international alliance to ensure COVID-19 vaccines reach the world’s poor.

Myanmar forecast that about 40 percent of its population will be inoculated against COVID-19 by the end of 2021. The remaining adults are expected to be vaccinated during the 2022-23 fiscal year.

Since Dec.19, Myanmar has seen a decline in daily COVID-19 cases. Fewer than 500 new cases are now being reported per day, down from a peak of more than 1,400 daily cases.

On Monday, Myanmar reported 137,957 COVID-19 cases, including 3,069 deaths and 122,116 recoveries.

In Asean Myanmar is fourth in terms of COVID-19 cases, behind Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.

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