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Suspension of AstraZeneca jab delays Thailand’s planned vaccination drive

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PHOTO: Facebook/ อนุทิน ชาญวีรกูล (Public Health Minister)

With Thailand joining several European countries in suspending use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine amid blood clot concerns, the Kingdom’s vaccine rollout now faces more delays. Thailand only has a limited supply of 1 other vaccine – China’s Sinovac.

Thailand had chosen AstraZeneca as the primary vaccine for those over the age of 60 (including the PM), signing a deal to procure 26 million doses. It also signed a technology transfer deal with the manufacturer to give Thai firm Siam Bioscience the right to make the vaccine locally. Siam Bioscience is wholly owned by the monarchy, prompting criticism from former politician and prominent government critic, Thanathorn Juangroonruangkit.

In January, Thanathorn accused the government of a conflict of interest in only ordering from AstraZeneca, saying placing faith in 1 vaccine at a time when all are new and relatively unknown, was a risky strategy. He has called into question the decision to award the local manufacturing contract to Siam Bioscience, accusing the government of trying to promote the monarchy at a time when protesters are calling for reform of Thailand’s highest institution.

Prior to the latest safety concerns, the delivery of AstraZeneca vaccines to Thailand was already in jeopardy due to a row with the EU over the manufacturer’s failure to meet its supply commitments to the bloc. Then, when the vaccines finally arrived in the Kingdom (from South Korea, instead of Italy) PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, who was supposed to be first in line, had to delay getting his shot due to an issue with the paperwork accompanying the shipment. His inoculation has now been postponed again while the current safety concerns are investigated.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation says the AstraZeneca jab is safe, insisting there is no causal effect between blood clots and the vaccine. It has an efficacy rate of over 63% in preventing symptomatic infections and cuts the risk of hospitalisation by 94%.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

 

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