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Doctor whose family died of Covid-19 urges private import of vaccines

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: Saranya and Sittipong Lapanich

Dr Sitthiphong Lapanich has lost a lot to Covid-19 and now he’s calling for others besides the government to import vaccines. The doctor has seen the effects of Covid-19, and the lack of effective vaccines, after losing both his parents and his sister to the virus, and is fighting to push the government to allow independent groups to directly import vaccines.

The doctor’s sister was Saranya Lapanich, also a doctor, a physician at Bhumibol Adulyadej Hospital. She just died of Covid-19 despite having 2 doses of the Sinovac vaccine that many complain is not effective against the Delta variant, now the primary strain of Covid-19 infecting Thailand.

Now Sitthiphong wants to know why groups like the Private Hospital Association aren’t being allowed to import more effective vaccines like Moderna or other mRNA vaccines. He doesn’t understand why only a handful of government agencies like the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation have the authorisation to deal with importing vaccines.

With the low number of vaccinated people in Thailand, Sitthiphong argues that an mRNA vaccine should be the primary vaccine used to fight Covid-19 in the country. And the first step to making that happen is to allow private hospitals and private companies the power to import vaccines on their own. He is confident many agencies are ready and capable of bringing much-needed vaccines into the country if given the chance.

Sitthiphong says that at the very least, the Private Hospital Association should be allowed to directly import vaccines if the government doesn’t trust smaller individual businesses or hospitals.

Meanwhile, funeral ceremonies for Sitthiphong’s sister Saranya, a well-liked physician, began yesterday and will continue through the weekend. The president of the Royal College of Physicians of Thailand announced her death on Facebook and her cremation ceremony on Monday is royally sponsored.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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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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