Thai COVID-19 vaccine rollout to be on time – Minister
Thailand’s health minister on Tuesday sought to reassure the public that a mass vaccination program would begin as planned next week, amid concern over the vaccine supply and relentlessly over its COVID outbreak- 19 deadliest to date.
Thailand is struggling to contain its most severe current outbreak and authorities have been pushing to get vaccines from more manufacturers, accompanied by mixed messages on how mass vaccinations will be carried out.
“On June 7 there will be a vaccine for everyone, those who already have vaccine appointments will receive it as scheduled,” Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said.
Thailand has 6 million doses of AstraZeneca (AZN.L) vaccine available, out of 61 million doses ordered, which are to be manufactured locally by Siam Bioscience, a company owned by the King of Thailand.
A Philippine presidential adviser said on Tuesday he was informed by AstraZenca that its first batches of 17 million doses promised had been delayed by several weeks due to delays in Thai production. Read more
The Thai government made no mention of delays and AstraZeneca and Siam Bioscience did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Anutin did not specify the source of the 6 million doses of AstraZeneca. The government previously said there would be 3 million doses of Sinovac (SVA.O) vaccine available to the public in June.
So far, only 2.5 million of the over 66 million people have received at least one dose of a vaccine, mostly from Sinovac (SVA.O).
Thailand’s mass vaccination strategy has been widely criticized for its heavy reliance on AstraZeneca and chaotic preparations for the deployment.
Authorities recently said they would widen the dose gaps to speed up vaccinations and prioritize the capital Bangkok and surrounding provinces, raising concerns over greater availability. Read more
The government previously announced that it would order 20 million doses of the Pfizer (PFE.N) / BioNTech (22UAy.DE) vaccine.
Anutin said on Tuesday he was speaking to Pfizer and that Thailand may also order five million doses of the Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) vaccine for the fourth quarter of this year.
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