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Thai government slammed for delays in vaccine procurement

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The Thai government has been blasted for the slow rollout of AstraZeneca vaccines, following the news that the monthly delivery would be cut from 10 million to 5 million. Opposition MP Wiroj Lakkhanaadisorn from the Move Forward Party says Thailand is also obliged to send batches of the AstraZeneca vaccine overseas as other countries have already placed orders for them. The result is that appointments here are being postponed.

“There is also a report that from July, AstraZeneca Thailand will export vaccines to other countries, and only one-thirds of the vaccines produced will be reserved for Thailand.”

The Bangkok Post reports that Chanin Rungthakiat from the Pheu Thai Party accuses the government of making a mess of the vaccine rollout from day 1. He says opting to make AstraZeneca the primary vaccine means there are insufficient quantities of quality vaccines. Now that supplies of AstraZeneca are running low, the government is supplementing with Sinovac, having committed to purchasing another 28 million doses of the Chinese vaccine.

Meanwhile, vaccines such as Moderna are being categorised as “alternative vaccines”, meaning people need to pay for them. In addition, delays in placing orders for Moderna doses have come to light, with yet more passing the buck and finger pointing.

Vitoon Danwiboon from the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation says it’s been working to purchase the vaccines since February. He insists that, despite 2 private hospitals saying they could buy vaccines directly from Moderna, procurement can only be done through the importer Zuellig Pharma.

“The GPO contacted Moderna in the US to buy its vaccines and the company replied that it would deliver the vaccines in the first quarter next year at the earliest.”

Vitoon adds that the GPO is acting on the government’s behalf, but that there has been no budget allocated to the purchase of Moderna vaccines, which has affected delivery. He says the GPO is liaising with over 300 private hospitals to ensure they want the vaccine, but only about 9 million doses have been requested.

He says contracts are yet to be signed because the GPO is waiting for private hospitals to pay upfront for the vaccine before they will place the order. He says he hopes contracts can be signed in August.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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