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Anutin: US donation offer of 1 million vaccines never received

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Anutin claims he did not receive any formal notice of a US Pfizer vaccine donation. (via Flickr Marco Verch)

Apparently citing chain of command technicalities, Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul denied a report that Thailand didn’t respond to the US offering a donation of 1 million free Pfizer vaccines. He said no official formal notice of an offer to donate vaccines was received by his ministry.

Anutin explained that the chain of command for vaccine donations involves the United States Department of State passing on the offer to the US embassy in Bangkok who in turn conveys the information to the Thai government in order for them to respond to the offer.

The minister stated that no such offer had come from the US embassy, so the Ministry of Public Health was unaware or unable to respond to the chance to receive 1 million free Pfizer vaccines.

He pointed as an example to the previous donation from the United States, which in August had made another Pfizer vaccine donation to Thailand. In that instance, Anutin says the ministry was notified in advance of the US donation intentions after word was received by the Thai Foreign Ministry who had been contacted by the US embassy regarding the donation.

Minister Anutin says that the Ministry of Public Health has been directed to hand over management and distribution duties of all vaccines donated from the United States to the Department of Disease Control though it is unclear if this was due to the possibility that Thailand missed out on a million-vaccine donation due to bureaucratic chain of command red tape.

The original donation of Pfizer vaccines had mostly gone to giving booster shots to frontline medical workers that had previously received 2 of the less effective Sinovac vaccines. The figures from the Department of Disease Control had stated on September 18 that over 915,000 people had received their third booster vaccine, though on the 19th that figure unexplainedly dropped to just over 754,000. After several hundred thousand injections being given the last few days, the total has now climbed to just under 1 million third vaccines administered.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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