Thai PM promises free Covid vaccine for half the population in initial rollout


PM Prayut Chan-o-cha has repeated his pledge to vaccinate half the population for free in 2021. Thailand will take delivery of its first supply of China’s Covid-19 vaccine by the end of next month, with an initial 200,000 doses of the Sinovac jab reserved. First in line will be healthcare workers and elderly people considered high risk.

Following the initial delivery, a further 800,000 doses are expected to arrive in March, and another 1 million doses in April. The government has also reserved 26 million doses of the vaccine produced by AstraZeneca, in partnership with Oxford University in the UK.

It is currently in advanced talks to procure an additional 35 million doses and has signed a technology transfer agreement with the firm to allow for local production in the Kingdom. Thai manufacturers, Siam Bioscience, hope to produce 200 million doses a year. Going forward, the PM says he wants to assure Thais of the availability of locally-produced, cost-effective vaccines.

The PM has once again brought up the vision of Thailand as a mecca for all things medical, referring to researchers at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University, who are also working on a Covid-19 vaccine.

“In a crisis, there are always opportunities. And in the Covid-19 crisis, we can turn Thailand into a medical hub.”

Meanwhile, the Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul, say the private sector is free to import its own vaccines, provided they have been approved by Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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