As all the people know already that we began the COVID vaccinations the other day. The first vaccinations were given to our healthcare personnel and volunteers who are providing healthcare services on the frontlines. We started programmes in every state and region. I also went to have a look. That was in Nay Pyi Taw. At the vaccination site in Nay Pyi Taw, our Union Minister for Health Dr Myint Htwe rolled up his sleeves and bravely accepted a jab. He said he felt no pain. Not only did he feel no pain, when I asked him just now he said he did not have any negative side effects. However, among the healthcare personnel who were vaccinated, about one third said that they had slight aches, chills, or some sort of fever about 12 hours after being vaccinated; but this is not in a serious way. Just for some time. After that, they were all right.
This is natural when you receive some sort of vaccination; for example, flu. When you receive a flu shot, you feel this sort of reaction—some sort of aches and pain. You feel muscle pain, a slight chill, some slight tremors, and somewhat feverish. This is to be expected. Up to now, we have not seen any serious incidents. That is why we will proceed with this programme in a systematic way. I am always reminding you. I don’t know if you have become a little fed up with my reminders. However, the reason why I have to keep reminding is that this is just the first dose. There will be a second dose. We can say that you have attained protection only after the second dose. When we say a second dose, there are four weeks during the interval; that is 28 days. Those who were vaccinated on the 27th will get their second doses on the 24th next month, I think. That means after four weeks. We can assume that they are protected only after the second dose.
The manner in which we receive these vaccines depends on the countries which are providing us with these vaccines. We are also purchasing these vaccines. There are those who are donating vaccines also. However, we will get only when they give us. We will be receiving on a regular basis month by month. We will be vaccinating all our people. We have estimated that we will be able to provide vaccinations to the people. We have made preparations to do this. At the same time, when we say we are protecting the people from the COVID-19 disease, we are giving protection not only for the virus. We have to think of the related impacts of the disease; especially the economic impacts. We have to look at the negative economic consequences on the lives of our people.
In this regard, the financial relief that our Union government has been giving out to the people to the best of our ability, to protect them from COVID has become quite substantial at this moment. To give a rough figure, it is about one thousand billion from the loan. After that another one thousand billion from the rotating fund. Then over fifty billion from the natural disaster relief fund. In total, we have spent over one thousand six hundred billion. We will spend more as needed. We will do whatever is required in order to ensure that our economy will be back to the normal mode. Yesterday when I went to take a look at the vaccination programme being conducted I felt very happy. I felt happy because we were able to begin this vaccination programme. This means we have begun the process of providing protection to our whole country. We have begun with the healthcare personnel; I am feeling happy for this also. This is in a way of showing our thanks and recognition to the healthcare personnel for their contributions and services. By giving them first priority in the vaccination programme, we are showing them how vital they are for our citizens at this time. We wanted to give them recognition for this fact. Saying “thanks” from the lips is easy to do. Saying “thanks” again and again from the lips is easy. I feel very satisfied that we have been able to show our thanks with our deeds. At this time, I wish to express my appreciation again to all the healthcare personnel and volunteers who are providing their services on the frontlines.
I wish to thank our people because they have been able to successfully overcome COVID-19 up to this stage. I said very often that ‘People are the key’ because they have been able to overcome the COVID-19 challenge stage by stage. We cannot succeed in anything without the participation of the people. We have seen a gradual improvement in COVID containment measures. But I think the improvement is quite slow. The number of confirmed cases is hovering around 400 for some days. The figure declined below 300 some days ago but surged again to more than 400. It is expected the figure will go downward gradually. It is important to maintain a declining trend. I especially want to encourage the people in Yangon for the declining number of cases. This improvement has lessened our anxiety greatly. Yangon has a dense population. However, this declining rate has been an encouragement to us because the population is dense and therefore, infection spread is easy. However, we need to maintain this improvement. Therefore, let me remind you all once again to wear masks, wash hands regularly and practice social distancing. Although the social distancing is set at 6-ft apart, I saw it was not being followed during the vaccination programme I visited the other day.
Some persons, especially media personnel, did not stay even 6 inches apart from each other. They worked very tightly. I wish to warn that this situation can cause infection. People who received the first dose of vaccination need to maintain vigilance. It would be such a huge waste of vaccines if they became infected with COVID-19 between the first and second doses, and the first dose would be in vain. It is important to note that the country had to bear huge expenditures. As the availability of vaccine is not easy, it is very valuable. We don’t want to see even a single dose of vaccine wasted. I want people to be fully aware of this fact. The vaccination programme will continue in prioritized order in some places with dense population and with stay-at-home order. I expect public participation in this process. People are working for the country and the security of the country. Our country will have security and achieve progress only if our people are healthy and wealthy. Therefore, now that we are going to get vaccinations, it is not only good for our health, but it will also be a great relief for us. That is why I want all the people to participate and cooperate for the success of the vaccination programme. Never forget ‘People are the key’. May our people have peace of mind and tranquillity.
(Translated by Kyaw Myaing, Aung Khin)