Red Cross urges vaccine donations to hard-hit Southeast Asia

Bangkok, Jul 13 (EFE).- The International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) on Tuesday urged the acceleration of Covid-19 vaccine deliveries to countries in Southeast Asia, hit hard by a fierce new wave of the pandemic linked in part to the Delta variant.

Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia are some of the countries most affected, having consistently registered record numbers of deaths and daily cases recently, and as vaccinations are carried out slowly and hospitals are full or overwhelmed.

“Millions of people in Asia are living on the cruel and sharp edge of a global vaccine divide between richer countries that have a steady supply and most nations in Asia that are struggling to access sufficient doses to keep their populations safe,” said Alexander Matheou, IFRC Asia-Pacific director, in a statement.

The international body urged developed nations, such as those where more than half of the population has been vaccinated, to comply with their commitments to donate doses to other countries in need.

“We need to speed up the delivery of these lifesaving doses so that we can get them in to people’s arms, giving us a genuine shot at containing this pandemic once and for all,” Matheou added.

Thailand, for example, has seen its number of daily cases quadruple in recent weeks, while less than 5 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated. With hospital beds scarce, more field hospitals being set up to hold the overflow of patients.

Indonesia, where hospitals are also overwhelmed and there are problems in the supply of oxygen, is another of the countries where the Delta variant is causing devastation.

Vietnam has vaccinated less than 1 percent of its population with the full two doses, according to the statement, and since early June has seen daily cases increase tenfold.

The situation in Myanmar is one of the most worrying, although the IFRC only warns of overwhelmed hospitals, with the new wave of the pandemic compounded by the political crisis derived from the coup in February.

Thousands of doctors and nurses, many of them persecuted by the military junta, continue their indefinite strike to protest the military coup that put an end to the young democracy in the country.

Despite the partial lockdowns decreed by the military regime, the demonstrations in rejection of the military command continue almost six months after the coup.

Local media also report that the military junta has ordered that the sale of oxygen to private individuals be prevented and that all production be destined for military-controlled hospitals, many of which are understaffed and on the brink of collapse.

Junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing assured on Monday that there is a sufficient supply of oxygen, according to the official newspaper, the Global New Light of Myanmar, denying criticism and blaming it on the political benefit of the opposition.

However, Myanmar Now reports long lines of people trying to procure oxygen tanks, the price of which has increased in recent days, and that many patients have not been admitted by hospitals, where oxygen is also in short supply. EFE


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