Myanmar & COVID-19

Myanmar Signs Up to Buy India’s COVID-19 Vaccine

By Zaw Zaw Htwe 28 December 2020

Yangon – Myanmar has signed a memorandum of understanding with the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, to purchase COVID-19 vaccines, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Myanmar is planning to buy enough vaccines to inoculate about 15 million citizens.

The Serum Institute sought emergency authorization for its vaccine from the Drugs Controller General of India. The institute expected its vaccine will be approved for emergency use by the end of December.

In a televised speech on Thursday night, State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said the government has already made preparations for a vaccination program when supplies arrive.

She said the vaccination process will be carried out step-by-step with health workers on the COVID-19 frontline the first priority to be vaccinated, followed by older people.

Details about the supplies of the vaccine are expected to be revealed within a week.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said the vaccination process for the country will take months.

“We need to be very vigilant during this interim period. We should not stumble just as our goal comes into view,” she said.

Myanmar is planning to start providing COVID-19 vaccines to about 20 percent of its 54.4 million population in April under the global Covax affordable medicine program.

The Ministry of Health and Sports said 40 percent of the population is expected to be vaccinated by the end of 2021 with the rest being vaccinated during the 2022-23 financial year.

Myanmar has established three conditions, only one of which must be met: approval of the vaccine by the World Health Organization; official approval in three separate countries; or emergency approval.

Myanmar has also negotiated with the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency and International Monetary Fund to secure more than US$950 million (1.29 trillion kyats) to fund the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.

On Monday, Myanmar reported 121,886 COVID-19 cases, including 2,601 deaths and 103,223 recoveries.

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, down from a peak of more than 1,400.

Currently, fewer than 500 new coronavirus cases are being reported in Yangon, down from up to 1,900 cases per day in previous months.

On Sunday, Yangon reported 82,108 COVID-19 cases.

On Dec 24, Professor Zaw Wai Soe, vice-chairman of Yangon’s COVID-19 prevention, control and treatment committee, told the media about the closure of two temporary COVID-19 hospitals due to the decline in cases. Yangon now has 12 COVID-19 hospitals.

On Sunday, Mandalay Region, which follows Yangon in terms of cases, reported 13,105 cases. It is followed by Bago Region, which on Sunday reported 7,560 COVID-19 cases, followed by Ayeyarwady Region with 4,546, Rakhine State with 4,115, Magwe Region with 2,707, Mon State with 2,260 and Sagaing Region with 1,763 cases.

The health ministry on Sunday lifted the stay-at-home orders on areas of Seikgyikanaungto, Twante and Kungyangon townships in Yangon.

Stay-at-home orders were imposed on the whole region, except for the islands of Cocokyun Township.

Similar orders have been lifted in areas of Bago, Mandalay and Ayeyarwady regions and Mon and Kachin states.

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

Cases have been reported in more than 200 townships across the country.

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