With new China deal, vaccines in sight

The country’s first COVID-19 vaccinations are on the horizon. Following a deal to buy vaccine doses from India, China this week offered Myanmar some of its approved vaccine for free. Furthermore, the Ministry of Health and Sports said it will soon ratify its official vaccination plan. During a video conference, national health minister Dr. Myint Htwe said the plan — which involves complex logistics and inter-departmental coordination — will soon be ready for implementation. Although it remains unclear when the vaccines would arrive from China, the 30 million doses ordered from India could begin arriving by the end of February.

But acquiring vaccine doses will be only half the battle. Once Myanmar begins to receive them, it will have the same problems with logistics and prioritization other nations are facing. Thus, though it may be as soon as one month before the first Myanmar people receive vaccines, pandemic restrictions will almost certainly continue for some time. In terms of the economy, a full recovery will not only require Myanmar’s own restrictions to be lifted, but a return to normalcy in the global marketplace. Trade, tourism and manufacturing began to suffer well before Myanmar’s own COVID-19 outbreak, and they could continue to suffer even after the country achieves widespread vaccinations.

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