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Privatising Covid vaccines – Thai government gives private hospitals the go-ahead to buy vaccines

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“About 10,000 people are being vaccinated around Thailand, on average, with 14,000 people being vaccinated each day in Phuket.”

Private hospitals and institutions have been given the official go-ahead to purchase up to 10 million doses of approved Covid-19 vaccines. The purchases will be in addition to what the Thai government is also doing. The major sticking point, despite the approval, however, continues to be the world supply shortage of vaccines, with demand far outstripping current supply.

The CCSA’s Dr. Taweesilp Visanuyothin announced that the Thai PM had approved the privatisation of vaccines but maintained that the roll out of free vaccines for Thais and people at risk would continue at full pace. The Thai government have been fending off accusations that it was blocking the acquisition of vaccines by private companies and hospitals. The 10 million doses approved for private purchases actually allows about 5 million vaccinated people with most of the approved vaccines needing 2 doses.

The spokesperson explained that the Thai government needs to have 40 million Thais vaccinated before they would be able to claim any scientific level of herd immunity. The public health minister said that around 10,000 people per day are being vaccinated around the country, on average. About 350,000 doses have arrived in Thailand and 1.5 million more doses are awaiting delivery for this month, according to the Thai PM.

The order allows the private sector to use a letter of approval from the Thai government to purchase its own supplies separately. Or, alternatively, to purchase directly from the government and resell to customers.

The government’s current order for vaccines is enough for around 35 million people with a local supplier, manufacturing the Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine under license, from June this year.

Dr Taweesilp also urged private companies to target and purchase vaccines from manufacturers other than the vaccine companies the Thai government were already dealing with.

The following vaccines are currently approved in Thailand…

  • AZD1222 by AstraZeneca/Oxford University (2 doses)
  • ARS-CoV-2 (CoronaVac) by Sinovac (2 doses)
  • NT162b2/CORMIRNATY – Tozinameran by Pfizer/BioNTech (2 doses)
  • Covishield (ChAdOx1_nCoV19) by the Serum Institute of India (2 doses)
  • Ad26.COV2.S by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson (Single dose)
  • mRNA-1273 by Moderna (2 doses)

There are also current applications pending from other vaccine producers which will likely be approved in coming weeks.

Many expats have been chasing information about when they could expect to be vaccinated. Despite some promises from the government there has been little concrete information about formalities to register for vaccination at this stage. Meanwhile many expats have indicated they were prepared to pay for their vaccination but were unable to get clarification from private hospitals about when that may be available.

In Phuket the provincial government has promised ALL registered residents, local or foreign, that they would be eligible for government-funded vaccination. There has been a flurry of activity on the island over the past 2 weeks since the ‘Sandbox’ proposal was approved, in principal, for a July re-opening of quarantine-free tourism to vaccinated travellers. There has been queues and waiting lists at the island’s public hospitals every day for the past week. Currently some 14,000 people are being vaccinated every day, on average.

Meanwhile, the events of the past few days – the closure of entertainment venues and bars in 41 provinces, including all the main tourist areas – will force the government to re-consider any scheduled plans to re-open borders and reduction of quarantine times. Travellers are still allowed to visit Thailand, under new guidelines introduced on April 1, 2021.

What you currently need to enter Thailand…

  • Vaccine certificate, either a print out or the original document (or vaccinated travellers)
  • Certificate of Entry issued by the Royal Thai Embassy in your country
  • Covid-19 health insurance with a minimum coverage of US$100,000
  • Booking confirmation for an Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) hotel
  • Negative Covid-19 test issued no more than 72 hours before departure

Anyone considering travelling to Thailand at this time is recommended to check with the Thai embassy in their country first, before making bookings of ASQ hotels or flights.

 

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Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2011. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for 42 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program (public radio Australia), presented over 11,000 radio news bulletins, 3,950 in Thailand alone, hosted 1050 daily TV news programs and produced 2,100 videos, TV commercials and documentaries. He also reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue and other major stories in Thailand.

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