Myanmar aims to buy more Russian, Chinese COVID-19 vaccines as cases rise

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A member of the armed forces in parliament receives the AstraZeneca Covishield coronavirus vaccine in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, January 30, 2021. REUTERS/Thar Byaw/File Photo/File Photo

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June 30 (Reuters) - (This June 30 story refiles to correct typo in paragraph 6 to COVID-19)

Myanmar is negotiating to buy seven million doses of Russia's Sputnik COVID-19 vaccine, the head of its junta said, as authorities in the Southeast Asian country try to tackle a new wave of coronavirus infections.

In an interview with Russia's RIA news agency, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said after initially planning to buy two million doses, Myanmar was now looking to buy seven million.

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"We have made negotiations to buy more from Russia," Min Aung Hlaing was quoted as saying. He did not say whether it would be the Sputnik V or single-shot Sputnik Light vaccine.

The junta head, who recently returned from a trip to Russia, said neighbouring India, which had initially supplied the bulk of Myanmar's vaccines, was unable to provide more doses due to its own outbreak.

"China has also sent some vaccines and we have used those as well. We will also continue negotiations with China," he said.

Myanmar has recorded 155,697 COVID-19 cases and 3,320 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to health ministry data.

But reported infections have jumped this month, raising concern of a much bigger wave. Many of the new infections have been reported from near the border with India.

Some health experts say the real rate of infection is likely to be far higher given a collapse in testing since the Feb.1 coup.

Health workers joined a civil disobedience movement to protest against the ousting of elected ruler Aung San Suu Kyi, whose government had brought two waves of infection under control.

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Reporting by Reuter Staff; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Robert Birsel

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