Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar Health Chiefs Warn Against Fake COVID-19 Vaccines

By Myo Pa Pa San 2 October 2020

Yangon — Myanmar’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has warned the public against so-called COVID-19 vaccines being sold in the country.

The government said it is taking steps to prevent the smuggling and sale of fake vaccines and pills, a director of the FDA, who asked not to be named, told The Irrawaddy.

“Not only vaccines but also pills have been illegally smuggled into the country and are being sold online. Those medicines are illegal,” the director told The Irrawaddy.

The Ministry of Health and Sports on Thursday said there has been no COVID-19 vaccine endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and no supplier has completed the three-phase clinical trial process.

On Facebook, retailers are selling COVID-19 tests for 20,000 kyats (US$15) and COVID-19 drugs, which they claim are made in China.

The National Drug Law threatens up to seven years in prison for the illegal sale and distribution of medicines without FDA approval.

The Central Committee for Prevention, Control and Treatment of COVID-19 chairwoman Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said on Sept. 21 that Myanmar is working to obtain a vaccine when it becomes available.

“The ministries of international cooperation and health have checked with diplomats of the countries which are testing vaccines about how soon we can get a vaccine. If a vaccine is successful, the WHO will determine whether it should be used. We won’t use a vaccine on our people if its safety can’t be assured,” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi told the public.

The Union of Myanmar Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s pharmaceutical and medical patron, Dr. Maung Maung Lay, said: “Some countries are working to produce COVID-19 vaccines and I heard vaccines are available. I saw adverts offering to deliver vaccines to your door and heard of traditional medicines from China. But none of these medicines have been approved.”

The Global Vaccine Alliance, Global Fund, Access to Health Fund, WHO, USAID, the Asian Development Bank and World Bank have provided financial assistance totaling $55.8 million (73 billion kyats) to Myanmar and Japan, South Korea and Thailand have sent medical equipment.

The government has also provided 265 billion kyats ($196 million) and is also receiving donations to handle the health crisis.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko

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