Myanmar will embrace Russian COVID-19 vaccine

The Myanmar government will begin importing and administering Russia’s new COVID-19 vaccine, pending approval from the World Health Organization (WHO). Speaking alongside State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi via Facebook live stream, Ministry of Health and Sports permanent secretary Dr. Thet Khaing Win said the WHO is currently evaluating the vaccine—named “Sputnik-5″—and plans to distribute it to all lower and middle income countries, if approved. He said Myanmar has been conferring with the organization about a local rollout, which would prioritize elderly and immuno-compromised people.

On August 11, President Vladimir Putin announced the completion of Sputnik-5, developed by Moscow’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology. He called it the world’s first proven COVID-19 vaccine and said that it had been administered to his own adult daughter. But the response from the scientific and medial communities, especially in the West, have not been as optimistic. “Scientists around the world immediately denounced the certification as premature and inappropriate, as the Gamaleya vaccine has yet to complete a trial that convincingly shows it is safe and effective in a large group of people,” according to a report by Science magazine. Thus, in the Facebook Live conference, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi emphasized that Myanmar would balance its haste to adopt a vaccine with due caution. “If it is safe and effective, we’ll try to get it quickly for our people,” the Myanmar Times quoted her as saying.

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