Volunteers wearing personal protective equipment bury the bodies of people who died from the Covid-19 coronavirus after their funeral at a cemetery in Mandalay on July 14, 2021. (AFP)

Batch of 736,000 Chinese vaccines arrives in Myanmar


A batch of Chinese Covid-19 vaccines arrived in Myanmar on Thursday, an AFP reporter said, as the country battles a devastating new surge in cases.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military coup on February 1, and the latest wave of the pandemic has struck with many hospitals empty of pro-democracy medical staff.

The shipment contained 736,000 Sinopharm doses, according to media controlled by the State Administration Council.

The junta has purchased four million vaccines from China, it said earlier this month, adding Beijing will donate a further 2 million.  

But widespread anger at the coup — and fear of being seen to cooperate with the regime — is keeping many away from military-run hospitals. 

Instead, volunteer groups across the country are fighting desperate battles to source precious oxygen and bring the dead for cremation. 

On Thursday, the National Unity Government said it had formed its own Covid taskforce, and would seek international support to procure vaccines.

The NUG, whose members are in exile or underground, did not make clear how it would be able to secure and administer vaccine doses in Myanmar.   

Around 1.75 million people have so far been vaccinated in the country of 54 million, according to authorities.

Beijing enjoys exceptional leverage over Myanmar and has refused to label the military action a coup.

Myanmar on Wednesday reported 6,701 new cases — up from around 100 per day in early June.

Earlier this month, state media reported junta leader Min Aung Hlaing had agreed to buy two million vaccines from Russia — another major ally — without specifying which shot.

Myanmar’s creaking healthcare system had struggled to respond to Covid even before the generals’ putsch.

Swathes of the country were put under partial lockdown last year, although enforcement was often lax in the developing nation where many face a stark choice between following regulations and feeding their families.

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Support our independent journalism and get exclusive behind-the-scenes content and analysis

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters.

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar