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A devastating third wave of the coronavirus pandemic is hitting several countries in Southeast Asia as the delta variant takes hold in the region, leading to record levels of infections and death.
Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand had avoided such largescale outbreaks previously. Now, they're struggling to contain fresh outbreaks, even as Indonesia and Myanmar are battling low vaccination rates, limited oxygen supplies and overcrowded hospitals. Health care experts say health care systems in both countries are on the brink of collapse.
Indonesian Epidemiologist Dicky Budiman of Griffith University in Australia spoke with NPR about why so many countries in the region are facing high levels of infection now.
"Our testing capacity is still low compared to the magnitude of the pandemic. And the second one is about the vaccination rate - not only low but slow," Budiman said.