India-donated COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Myanmar by Friday. How many? That’s secret.

Update Jan. 22: The vaccines were loaded onto a plane bound for Yangon’s international airport this morning. There were 1.5 million doses, enough to inoculate 750,000 people.

A batch of donated Astrazeneca-Oxford vaccines produced in India will arrive in Myanmar as soon as today, a member of the national pandemic task force announced today.

Part of India’s vaccine diplomacy, an undisclosed amount of its domestically produced Astrazeneca vaccine, called Covishield, is due Friday at the latest. Doses reached Dakha today and have also been promised to Bhutan, Maldives, Bangladesh and Nepal. The government last month negotiated with a variety of organizations including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to obtain nearly USD$1 billion (MMK1.3 trillion) to buy vaccines.

Myanmar has already paid for 15 million of the 30 million doses it has pledged to purchase from manufacturer Serum Institute of India, according to the committee.

Aye Nyein, deputy director-general of the Food and Drug Administration, said the doses coming this week were an additional quantity outside of the purchase agreement.

“The medicine is now complimentary between the two governments,” he said.

Obviously, it’s difficult to gauge how excited the public should be when the quantity remains a secret.

The Ministry of Health and Sports, in consultation with the Central Committee for the Control of COVID-19 Vaccines, says it has systematically devised a vaccination process.

According to health officials, everyone 18 and up can get the vaccine through a streamlined process. They vowed to prevent a third wave of infections hitting the country.

The second-wave outbreak that began in August has eased after peaking in November at about 1,700 daily cases. There have been fewer than new cases reported daily since Saturday, with 478 cases reported today.

Altogether, Myanmar reported 2,997 deaths and 135,721 cases, 85,471 of which were in Yangon.

The Astrazeneca vaccine, approved for use last week in India following the United States and United Kingdom, has been proven to be about 70% effective.


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