Yangon – The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Wednesday approved a second emergency loan to Myanmar, valued at US$350 million (466.5 billion kyats), to address COVID-19 after approving a $356.5 million (474 billion kyats) loan in June last year.
Last month, Myanmar’s government negotiated with international development organizations, including the IMF, to secure more than $950 million (1.3 trillion kyats) to fund the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines under a World Health Organization program.
The government has sought $350 million (467 billion kyats) from the IMF, $250 million (333 billion kyats) from the Asian Development Bank, $60 million (80 billion kyats) from the World Bank and 30 billion yen (395 billion kyats) from the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
The IMF said on Jan. 13 that its assistance will help minimize the pandemic’s economic and social impacts while supporting vulnerable people and health care providers.
The country’s economy is suffering from extensive lockdowns, no tourist income and supply chain disruptions, according to the IMF.
The investment “will help address Myanmar’s urgent financing needs related to the COVID-19 shock”, the IMF said.
Myanmar expects that 40 percent of its 54.4 million inhabitants will be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the end of 2021. The remaining 60 percent are expected to be vaccinated during the 2022-23 financial year.
Myanmar’s government is also seeking donations from the public to buy COVID-19 vaccines, earmarking $251 million (335 billion kyats) itself.
Through diplomatic channels, Myanmar ordered 30 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, covering 15 million people, from the Serum Institute of India, which is producing COVID-19 vaccines called Covishield developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. The doses are due to arrive in February.
Myanmar has initially paid $75 million (100 billion kyats), half the amount for the vaccine order, the President’s Office said last week. Each Covishield dose is costing about $5 (6,700 kyats).
The total costs could reach $550 million (733 billion kyats) for the whole population, with two doses needed per person.
In addition to the vaccine, storage and other logistical costs will be significant, according to the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry.
Myanmar is also trying to buy COVID-19 vaccines from China, the UK, USA and Russia.
Individuals, businesses and religious organizations are donating to the COVID-19 vaccine fund in response to the government request for help.
The government said the total amount donated will be announced in the state-owned media soon.
Since Dec. 19, Myanmar has seen a decline in daily COVID-19 cases. Fewer than 1,000 new cases are now being reported per day across the country.
On Thursday, Myanmar reported 132,865 COVID-19 cases, including 2,912 fatalities and 116,100 recoveries.
Cases have been reported at about 300 townships across the country. In Asean, Myanmar is fourth in terms of COVID-19 cases, behind Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.
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