YANGON (Chindwin): Thousands have been reportedly administered with fake Covid vaccine in Myanmar, posing a high risk of public health amid the collapse of the public health system due to the military coup.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a Medical Product Alert (N°5/2021) for a falsified Covishield (ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 Corona Virus Vaccines [Recombinant]) COVID-19 vaccines in the WHO Africa Region and WHO South-East Asia Region, adding that the products have been reported at the patient level in Uganda, India and Myanmar.
The Serum Institute of India – a genuine producer of Covidshield – has confirmed the products listed by the WHO are indeed falsified.
According to private laboratories in Yangon, it is learned that the antibody result of dozens of victims of the fake Covishield vaccination revealed negative antibodies in four to eight weeks after the first fake dose was shot.
The Chindwin has learned that thousands of doses have been already smuggled into Myanmar from India through the northwest border route. Many have been administered with the counterfeiting vaccine in Kalaymyo areas in light of the third wave of delta variant.
Also, hundreds have been vaccinated for the products in Yangon and other cities as well.
Now, these fake vaccines are easily accessible in Myanmar, and more people are buying these vaccines and getting vaccinated with these.
The government of India, nonetheless, banned the export of Covid vaccines and sale to private organizations as India itself has imported millions of Moderna vaccines as around 17% of its population are reported to have been vaccinated by September.
After July, the Covishield vaccines – imported illegally through the border routes with a lack of proper cold chain’s storage – were found in Myanmar at a time when the third wave of Delta variant hit the country like a tsunami.
These vaccines are said to be imported using fraud documentation and available with easy access in the streets’ markets and individual importers in Yangon, Mandalay, and many other parts of Myanmar.
Thousands of people are believed to have been vaccinated with this falsified Covishield Covid vaccine, according to the local clinic in North Dagon, Yangon.
The falsified Covid vaccines pose a serious threat to Myanmar public health, placing a heavy burden on vulnerable groups. One person who was vaccinated with this falsified vaccine died in Kalaymyo a few days after being alerted by the WHO.
On 26 September, 4 million doses of Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine purchased from China arrived at Yangon International Airport. One day before the arrival of the vaccines from China, the military junta said that more than 3.47 million had been given so far for the first time in the country – adding that China donated vaccines to the country.
In Myanmar, only less than 7 per cent of the population are fully vaccinated by September.
According to the Ministry of Health, 1,630 new infected cases were recorded on 30 September, and the total number of deaths has reached more than 17,500.
The total infected cases are at 461,066 so far. With regard to the number of deaths, it is believed that the number would be much higher as the current political situation makes extremely difficult to reach people in the sub-urban and remote areas as Myanmar is embattled with the raging conflicts.