One-and-half million phials of COVID vaccines arrived at the Yangon International Airport the other day. These are Indian home-made “Covishield” vaccines, the local name for the Oxford Uni-AstraZeneca vaccine developed in the UK. India began shipping them to its neighbouring countries like Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Maldives, Seychelles, and Myanmar in what is being widely described as “vaccine diplomacy”. Still, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Mauritius are waiting for their respective regulatory clearances.
Covishield is an easy-to-be-stored kind of vaccines which can be stored at temperatures of 2C to 8C, almost the same as a domestic refrigerator. However, the currently world-known Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna must be stored at -70C and -20C respectively. The jab of Covishield has to be administered in two doses within a 28-day interval for its nearly 90-per-cent effectiveness.
Upon the arrival of the vaccines, the Union Government is also initiating its national vaccination plan. Priority group first goes to the frontline medical professionals, health personnel, including volunteers in the fight against the COVID. Those in the strategic sectors of the government machinery follow in the second group. The reason is that they are all taking vital leading roles to run the central government and state/regional governments at various levels effectively. Members of the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw are prioritized, too as the new Parliament is going to be convened soon.
The first batch of the vaccines will cover 750,000 people at best. We are confident that the Union Government will take step by step measures systematically to implement the national vaccination programme. Undoubtedly, the vaccination programme will begin in the coming weeks with the first and second priority groups, respectively. As earlier said, vaccines have two doses. The second dose will follow up after 28 days of the first one. Thus, the prioritized groups should not live carelessly but need to be constantly vigilant by adhering to the Ministry of Health and Sports’ health protocols.
Upon the arrival of the vaccines, the Union Government is also initiating its national vaccination plan. Priority group first goes to the frontline medical professionals, health personnel, including volunteers in the fight against the COVID.
Here, we wish to quote the State Counsellor. She said: “It will be a waste of resources if the disease infects the vaccinated persons with the first dose as they failed to abide by the preventative rules and regulations. Then, the first vaccination would be in vain. They would also miss the full potency of vaccination if they could not control themselves for 28 days.”
So, let’s get back to basics: wearing masks, washing hands frequently, avoiding crowds and gatherings, and distancing socially.