A woman holds a small bottle labelled with a “Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine” sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration. File/Reuters
Myanmar on Friday received 1.5 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine supplied by India to inoculate 750,000 people, the first vaccine batch delivered to the Southeast Asian country as it fights one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the region.
India is donating millions of doses of vaccines to a string of countries in Asia, drawing praise from neighbours and pushing back against China's dominating presence in the region.
Shipments of AstraZeneca’s vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the world's biggest producer of vaccines, have already gone to the Maldives, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Myanmar was among the countries next in line to get free consignments as India moved before China which has also pledged to supply vaccines to its neighbour. “This is a gift from India to Myanmar,” Saurabh Kumar, India's ambassador to Myanmar, told reporters at Yangon airport, where he oversaw the arrival of the vaccine.
Myanmar health ministry spokeswoman Khin Khin Gyi said the vaccine would be kept in Yangon in special refrigerated rooms before being rolled out next week. “Healthcare workers will be first priority and elderly people will be next,” she said, noting Myanmar has more than 110,000 medical workers.
Despite the arrival of vaccines, Khin Khin Gyi urged people in Myanmar not to get complacent and follow health protocols to prevent further spread of the virus.
In a post on an official government Facebook page, Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi urged “all our people to support us to make all COVID-19 control and treatment programmes a success.”
After containing the number of COVID-19 cases at the beginning of the pandemic, Myanmar is now struggling with a second wave, recording more than 136,000 cases and 3,000 deaths.
The number of daily new cases has dropped recently, though medical experts say it is unlikely to provide a full picture given relatively low testing rates.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi during a visit last week promised Myanmar 300,000 doses of a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine.
The UN chief told a high-level meeting of the UN Security Council that 130 countries have not received a single dose of vaccine and declared that “at this critical moment, vaccine equity is the biggest moral test before the global community.”
India’s government has proposed to increase spending on health care in a $477 billion budget for 2021-22 that promises extra help for weathering the coronavirus pandemic.
Russia is already testing the first samples of Sputnik V that were produced in India, its embassy in New Delhi said on Twitter on Friday, sharing a news story in which their vaccine czar Kirill Dmitriev was quoted.
An informed source said, "All flights at Najaf airport have been suspended until further notice, due to the severity of the dust storm."
The Ministry stressed in a statement on Monday that its aim to continue expanding the scope of testing nationwide to facilitate the early detection of coronavirus cases and carry out the necessary treatment.
Investigators were still searching for a motive, Hallock said, adding that the alleged gunman, who was not injured during the incident, was believed to be an Asian male in his 60s.
In a statement, MWL Secretary-General Dr. Mohammad bin Abdulkarim Al Issa extended the wishes of all MWL affiliates to His Highness Sheikh Mohamed for more success in serving his country and its people, following in the footsteps of his predecessors.