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Myanmar receives first batch of COVID-19 vaccines from India

YANGON — Myanmar on Friday received 1.5 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine supplied by India to inoculate 750,000 people, the first vaccine batch delivered to the Southeast Asian country as it fights one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the region.

India is donating millions of doses of vaccines to a string of countries in Asia, drawing praise from neighbors and pushing back against China’s dominating presence in the region.

Shipments of AstraZeneca’s vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, the world’s biggest producer of vaccines, have already gone to the Maldives, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

Myanmar was among the countries next in line to get free consignments as India moved before China which has also pledged to supply vaccines to its neighbor. “This is a gift from India to Myanmar,” Saurabh Kumar, India’s ambassador to Myanmar, told reporters at Yangon airport, where he oversaw the arrival of the vaccine. Myanmar health ministry spokeswoman Khin Khin Gyi said the vaccine would be kept in Yangon in special refrigerated rooms before being rolled out next week. “Healthcare workers will be first priority and elderly people will be next,” she said, noting Myanmar has more than 110,000 medical workers.

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