Myanmar general says Russia will supply 2 million Covid-19 vaccines as outbreak worsens

Min Aung Hlaing last month said he was seeking seven million doses of Russian vaccines.
Min Aung Hlaing last month said he was seeking seven million doses of Russian vaccines.PHOTO: REUTERS

YANGON (REUTERS) - Myanmar's military ruler said on Friday (July 9) that Russia had agreed to supply two million doses of coronavirus vaccine from this month, as the South-east Asian country reported another record in Covid-19 cases and deaths.

Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing, who led a Feb 1 coup against elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi's government, said the virus was spreading fast in Myanmar and that senior Russian defence officials had told him that help with vaccines was on the way.

"I told them that I want two million and they will give," he said in remarks carried by army-owned Myawaddy television.

Myanmar reported 4,320 cases on Friday, a record for a second successive day, and 63 deaths.

General Min Aung Hlaing last month said he was seeking seven million doses of Russian vaccines.

Myanmar is in the midst of its most serious wave of infections to date, with efforts to manage the outbreak hampered by nationwide chaos in the wake of the military coup.

Some health experts say Myanmar's real rate of infection is likely to be far higher, given a collapse in testing since the coup and health workers joining strikes in protest.

Russia is among the few countries that have openly embraced the military government, which has been condemned globally over the coup and the deadly crackdown on pro-democracy groups.

The military government says most of those killed or arrested were "terrorists" who incited violence.

Gen Min Aung Hlaing said Myanmar was keen to make its own Covid-19 vaccines and Russia wanted to cooperate and send a delegation to inspect its production plant during this month. He did not elaborate.