Myanmar's political leader Aung San Suu Kyi wears a face shield as she attends a ceremony to mark the 32nd anniversary of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Naypyidaw on September 27, 2020. (Photo by Thet Aung / AFP) (AFP / Thet Aung)

False claim circulates on Facebook that authorities announced Myanmar will acquire Covid-19 vaccine before end of 2020

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Multiple Facebook posts shared thousands of times in October 2020 claim that Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has announced that medication for Covid-19 will be made available to Myanmar citizens before the end of 2020. This is misleading: in the televised speech cited in the misleading posts, Aung San Suu Kyi said only that some emergency Covid-19 patients in Myanmar would be given access to the antiviral remdesivir. The posts also claim that the World Health Organization has said an authorised Covid-19 vaccine will be offered in Myanmar at a cost of 4,000 Myanmar kyats ($3) per dose. This claim is false: as of October 14, 2020, the WHO has not formally approved any of the Covid-19 vaccines being tested in clinical trials around the world for use. 

The post was published here on Facebook on October 11, 2020. It has been shared more than 5,000 times. 

The Burmese-language post translates to English in part as: “Good news for all Myanmar! According to the Standard Time Daily newspaper and Mother Su (Aung San Suu Kyi)’s televised speech, Myanmar is going to have official COVID-19 medication at the end of 2020 (in December). WHO also announced that the (COVID-19) vaccine will be available with the price of MMK 4,000 (US$ 3).”

A screenshot of the misleading post taken on October 12, 2020

A similar claim was shared on Facebook here, here, and here

The post refers to a Facebook post published by Myanmar newspaper The Standard Time Daily. The newspaper’s post published here on October 10 did not mention that Myanmar would have a Covid-19 vaccine before the end of 2020.

The Burmese-language title translates to English as: “Severe COVID-19 patients are being treated with the medication (Remdesivir), which was used by Donald Trump. But Remdesivir cannot be assumed as the medicine to cure COVID-19”. 

Part of the Burmese report translates to English as: “Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi officially said in her televised speech that severe COVID-19 patients in Myanmar are now being treated with the same medication that was used after Donald Trump got infected with the virus.”

The report also quoted a Reuters news report, “Remdesivir is a kind of medicine that is produced in India. It costs India Rupee 5,000 or US$66 for a vaccine.”

In Aung San Suu Kyi’s televised speech on October 9, 2020, she did not give the exact date that Myanmar would acquire a Covid-19 vaccine. She referred to Remdesivir medicine that is currently used for severely ill Covid-19 patients. 

Part of her Burmese-language speech translates to English as: “People who recovered from Covid-19 can help us [the government] by donating their blood because we now have got a treatment called convalescent plasma therapy by using blood serum.”

She went on to say: “We [the state] take care of the people’s health. Now we use the medicine called Remdesivir, that was used for the U.S president Donald Trump, for our people. We got that medicine by buying from India. India also donated the medicine to Myanmar. We use that medicine to cure patients with severe conditions. Currently we cannot afford the medicine to use for all patients.”

As of October 14, 2020, the WHO has not announced that a Covid-19 vaccine has been approved or put into mass production. 

Several clinical trials for a Covid-19 vaccine were ongoing as of October 14. Here is an AFP report published on September 9, 2020 about some of the vaccine trials.