A senior health official has announced today that the previously declared 10 million AstraZeneca vaccines per month expected to be distributed in Thailand will now be lowered, and perhaps cut in half. The drop of 40 – 50% delivery comes as Thailand’s domestic facilities at Siam Bioscience say they are unable to meet production needs for domestic distribution and promised international exports.
Revising the original commitment, AstraZeneca Thailand will now aim to deliver 5 – 6 million vaccines per month in Thailand. The plan will start this month just as the original 10 million vaccine plan was scheduled to start. Now a portion of the vaccines produced in Bangkok will be sent to other countries in Southeast Asia. This information was in a letter written by AstraZeneca and shared by the director of the National Vaccine Institute.
AstraZeneca Thailand’s facilities serves as the vaccine’s hub to Southeast Asia, and already have commitments to deliver vaccines to Taiwan, the Philippines, and Malaysia. Countries have already complained about Thailand being unable to fulfil its commitment with shipments being delayed.
This change in plans will leave the Thai government scrambling in its quest to vaccinate the country’s population, as the vaccine rollout plan relied primarily on locally-produced vaccines having passed on opportunities to purchase doses from abroad previously. With the recently announced halving of vaccines expected to be received from Moderna, private hospitals will only have 5 million vaccines to distribute. Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson are also approved but no concrete plans for the importing have been confirmed.
Chulabhorn Royal Academy had sidestepped the government to import their own supply of the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine, launching the first million inoculations already with the expectation of 5 million more vaccines to come. But the majority of vaccines to make up for the shortage of AstraZeneca will likely come from the reasonably steady supply of Sinovac vaccines from China.
Thailand is woefully behind in vaccinating its population with only 10.3 million people receiving one vaccine dose and only 2.9 million people fully vaccinated. That represents 15% of the population and 4.3% of the population respectively. Data shows that only 3% of people with high risk underlying conditions have been fully vaccinated, and less than 1% of senior citizens have received both doses to be fully vaccinated.
SOURCE: Bangkok Post
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