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Human trials of locally made Covid-19 vaccine to begin in October

Jack Burton

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Human trials of locally made Covid-19 vaccine to begin in October | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thailand Business News

Surpassing earlier predictions that human trials of a locally manufactured Covid-19 vaccine could begin as early as the end of the year, Thailand will conduct the first human trials of its vaccine candidate in October, after trials on monkeys produced satisfactory results, with high level of immunity being detected in the animals. The minister for higher education, science, research and innovation made the announcement in a Facebook post today.

He says the next step is to recruit volunteers in August and September for human trials of the mRNA vaccine, which was jointly developed by the Vaccine Research Centre of Chulalongkorn University and the Office of National Research.

He wrote that that the second dose of the vaccine candidate in monkeys, at the National Primate Research Centre in the central province of Saraburi, showed that it boosted immunity in the animals to an “efficacious level.”

“Researchers have analysed blood samples from the monkeys, to assess the level of antibody. It is good news that the monkeys have developed a substantial level of immunity.”

All the monkeys are in good health, without side effects, 2 weeks after they were given the second dose on June 22.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Cabinet approves budget of over 6.3 billion baht for 35 million more vaccine doses

Maya Taylor

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Cabinet approves budget of over 6.3 billion baht for 35 million more vaccine doses | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Hakan Nural for UnSplash

The Thai government has approved a budget of 6.387 billion baht to procure an additional 35 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines. The budget was approved at a Cabinet meeting yesterday, according to a government spokesperson.

Nation Thailand reports that the budget will be divided into 5.6 billion baht, which will be spent on AstraZeneca vaccines, with 700 million baht going on preparation and rollout at a local level. It’s understood officials expect to take delivery of the new consignment at the same time as it receives the 26 million AstraZeneca doses and 2 million Sinovac doses already on order.

In total, this will give Thailand 63 million doses. In PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s “PM Podcast,” he said 63 million doses will cover approximately 31.5 million people. It’s understood the Public Health Ministry is also in talks with other vaccine manufacturers. Johnson & Johnson has already begun the process of applying to register its single-dose vaccine in the Kingdom. Thailand currently has a limited number of vaccine doses, with high-risk provinces and groups being given priority. The government plans to open vaccine registration to general members of the public in May.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Governor of Samut Sakhon recovering from Covid-19 after more than 40 days on ventilator

Maya Taylor

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Governor of Samut Sakhon recovering from Covid-19 after more than 40 days on ventilator | The Thaiger
PHOTO: National News Bureau of Thailand

The governor of the central province of Samut Sakhon is slowly recovering after more than 2 months battling Covid-19. Weerasak Wichitsangsri tested positive for the virus in late December and subsequently ended up on a ventilator for over 40 days. It’s understood Weerasak’s time on the ventilator was a record for the hospital and at times, medics were unsure if he would recover.

Prasit Watanapa from the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital says Weerasak is now off the ventilator and able to breathe normally, as well as talking, walking, and eating unaided. The Pattaya News reports that the governor’s symptoms improved over the last week, but he remains under close medical supervision. Prasit says he will be tested for antibodies, to determine if he should receive the Covid-19 vaccine.

“Only his muscle functions still need to be treated. The medical team is considering if the governor could have his rehabilitation at home or at Siriraj Hospital. It all depends on his further recovery.”

Weerasak has now been in hospital for more than 2 months, after testing positive for the virus on December 28, after attending a meeting at Samut Sakhon hospital. The central province is seen as the epicentre of the second wave of the virus, which emerged late last year. Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, who was also at the meeting, had to self-isolate following Weerasak’s diagnosis.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Thai PM orders Foreign Ministry to conduct vaccine passport study

Maya Taylor

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Thai PM orders Foreign Ministry to conduct vaccine passport study | The Thaiger
PHOTO: TTR Weekly

The Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha, says the government will look into the possibility of a vaccine passport policy, with discussions set to take place on Monday. The PM has asked the Foreign Ministry to carry out a study on the use of vaccine passports, but adds that there is no guarantee such a system would work at international level.

“So, at this point, I have ordered a study to be conducted around this idea in preparation for (a future use of it) so that Thailand will be able to keep up with other countries. Opinions about the Covid-19 vaccine passport system still vary, even in Thailand.”

Meanwhile, Opas Karnkawinpong from the Department of Disease Control says Monday’s meeting of the National Communicable Diseases Council will include a discussion on vaccine passports and the possibility of reducing the mandatory quarantine period. It’s understood the Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, has asked that everybody vaccinated in Thailand be provided with a certification of vaccination to help with any overseas travel plans.

Opas says he’s unsure about vaccinated people who want to come to Thailand, pointing out that the World Health Organisation has not yet outlined any criteria for vaccine passports. He adds that international talks and mutual agreements may need to be put in place first.

“The mandatory quarantine measures in Thailand will be based on the incubation period of the virus, which cannot be determined yet as nobody knows how the vaccine will affect it. The incubation period can be longer or shorter, as vaccines currently do not provide 100% protection. This will also be discussed at the meeting.”

Some countries, such as the US, the UK, and EU member states are understood to be considering a digital vaccine passport, although others have voiced objection to such a plan, questioning the efficacy of vaccines and whether they offer total protection.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post | Nation Thailand

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