Myanmar seeks around US$1B to acquire COVID-19 vaccines

Myanmar is asking the World Bank, Asia Development Bank (ADB), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for almost US$1 billion in funds to buy COVID-19 vaccines, said U Tun Tun Naing, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Industry (MOPFI).

“Like other countries, Myanmar is trying to get the vaccines for its people. While the Ministry of Health and Sports (MOHS) will try to acquire the vaccines with government funds, the MOPFI is also raising the required funds to buy them,” he said. Each ministry may be asked to reallocate part of their fiscal 2020-21 budgets to pay for the vaccines if needed, U Tun Tun Naing said. Last year, the ministries were also asked to reallocate 10 percent of their budgets to the COVID-19 Emergency Response Plan.

Myanmar is asking to borrow US$60 million from the World Bank, US$250 million from ADB, 30 billion yen from JICA, and another US$350 million from IMF in fiscal 2020-21. It has already borrowed US$350 million from the IMF as part of a US$700 million loan facility extended to the country. The World Bank will support the vaccination of a certain percentage of the Myanmar population. It is also negotiating with the Ministry of Health and Support for a suitable price to obtain the vaccine. It may cost US$2 for one shot of the vaccine. Two shots are required per person. The MOHS is also holding discussions with China, India, and Russia to obtain more vaccines.

U Tun Tun Naing said the handling and distribution of the vaccines are expected to be costly. “Vaccines have storage requirements such as keeping them in temperatures of under -17 degrees celcius. As such, the import, transportation and distribution channels, as well as special cold storage facilities, will have to be arranged carefully,” he said.

Myanmar on December 7 also submitted a request to the COVAX program at the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) to secure the vaccines. Myanmar expects to be able to commence vaccinations in April, according to Minister for Health and Sports U Myint Htwe. However, vaccines will sufficient for just about 20pc of its 54.4 million population initially, he said.

By the end of next year, the MOHS expects about 40pc of the population to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by vaccines approved by WHO. – Translated

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Source: Myanmar Times

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