Four million Sinopharm doses arrive as junta claims 10 percent already vaccinated

Four million Sinopharm doses arrive as junta claims 10 percent already vaccinated

Four million doses of Sinopharm arrived in Burma on Sunday night, according to the the Chinese Embassy in Yangon.

If newly announced figures from the military are true, it appears likely that the junta has received millions more doses from Beijing over the past months. Despite rising cases, the junta-appointed Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS) announced today that 10 percent, or nearly 5 million, of the overall population had already received at least one COVID-19 vaccination.

The statement declared that the vaccines are being targeted to specific at-risk populations in each state and region, despite current allegations that thousands of workers in Bago, Yangon, and Pathein have been forcibly vaccinated under threat of dismissal.

This morning, junta-appointed MOHS spokesperson Dr Khin Khin Gyi announced that vaccinations would start for citizens over 55 years old, or those with chronic illness and disabilities. The spokesperson mentioned that internally displaced persons and members of ethnic armed forces would also be amongst the first to be vaccinated, suggesting a condition has imposed by the Chinese government who is desperate to control the spread of the virus along its border. Vaccinations outside of this group will first be offered to those over 65 years old and non-CDM healthcare workers, the military said.

According to MOHS figures, as of September 11, 1.7 million people have been vaccinated once and another 3.2 million had received a full dose. China supplied the country with 12.6 million doses in total, nearly a quarter of which were donated. 

According to Our World in Data, Myanmar has the lowest percentage of both fully and partially vaccinated citizens in ASEAN, followed by the Philippines with over 16 percent and Vietnam with 24 percent. The country still faces multiple barriers to achieving a higher vaccination rate: trust in both the junta’s vaccination scheme and Chinese vaccines is at rock-bottom; 59 percent of those polled last month reported in a DVB poll that they would not take the vaccine from the State Authority Council.

In the same poll, another 30 percent of participants said they would get vaccinated but were waiting on available jabs from the military, but nearly all participants, 97 percent, agreed that the military’s vaccine rollout had been ineffective.