Myanmar's military general on Friday said that Russia has agreed to provide two million doses of the coronavirus vaccine within the month as the country struggles amid a surge of infections and deaths as well as political unrest due to the February coup.
On February 1, Min Aung Hlaing, Myanmar's Chairman of the State Administration Council, was the head of a military coup against Aung San Suu Kyi's elected government. He said that the coronavirus pandemic was quickly spreading throughout the country. He also announced that Russian officials have sent assistance in the form of vaccine distributions to the country.
Donation of Coronavirus Vaccines
The army-owned Myawaddy television reported Min's announcement where he said he told the Russian government that Myanmar needed two million vaccines. The European nation responded to the request. On Friday, the country reported 4,320 new cases of COVID-19 infections, a record for a second successive day, along with 63 deaths.
The announcement comes as Myanmar struggles with what seems to be the most severe coronavirus infection wave it has ever experienced. Efforts to control the spread of the virus have been hampered by the chaos and ongoing political unrest after the military coup, Reuters reported.
The vaccine shortage in Myanmar has caused its vaccination program to come to a halt. The situation has forced the military to look for suppliers of treatment for the disease. Since May, the country has not received any supply of the coronavirus vaccine despite having only 1.75 million people vaccinated among its 55 million citizens.
Suu Kyi was responsible for starting the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines in the country before she and her elected government were ousted out of their positions by the military coup. However, that program has since deteriorated after Indian officials opted to restrict exports of the vaccines by the Serum Institute of India, which was set to deliver about 30 million doses.
Additionally, vaccine doses from the global COVAX facility never succeeded in reaching Myanmar; and with the new variants of the infection, the situation in the country is only worsening. This week, the country has recorded more fatalities that have pushed the total death toll to nearly 3,600, Bloomberg reported.
Alessandra Dentice, the head of Myanmar's UNICEF office, said that before the military junta arrested Suu Kyi and her elected officials, the country was moving forward with testing and monitoring the COVID-19 infection. But with the coup, the army quickly brushed aside the coronavirus containment program that was placed to control the virus' spread.
Daily reports of COVID-19 infections in Myanmar have spiked by nearly 22 percent on Thursday and health experts expect more cases are on their way. There are three communities in the country that are among the largest and are near the border with India. These areas are the most worrisome because of the highly contagious Delta variant spreading throughout India in recent weeks.
Across six states, 20 towns have been put under pandemic-related stay-at-home orders by the military as of Thursday. The country's largest city, Yangon, has also reported an outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, the New York Times reported.