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Thai Red Cross order of 5 million Moderna vaccines in process



PHOTO: The Thai Red Cross Society will procure 5 million more Moderna vaccines. (via Flickr Jernej Furman)

The Thai Red Cross Society received notice from Zuellig Pharma, the company that distributes the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, for a 5 million vaccine order to be shipped next year. The Red Cross already has a confirmed order of 1 million vaccines they intend to distribute for free and are scheduled to arrive in the fourth quarter of 2020.

The letter was sent to the deputy director of the Relief and Community Health Bureau of the Thai Red Cross Society and is dated July 18. In it, Zuellig Pharma confirmed that they have already transmitted the 5 million vaccine order to Moderna and the order is being processed.

The procedure for obtaining this second round of vaccines looks to be a much more simple process, as the general manager of Zuellig Pharma explained that negotiating will be more direct. The first million vaccines were required to be negotiated through the Government Pharmaceutical Organization, Thailand’s middle man to allow private organisations to purchase and import since Thailand has a rule that only the government can do that.

Now the Thai Red Cross Society has received clearance to negotiate and import vaccines directly, clearing a lot of red tape that has bogged down the availability of vaccines in Thailand so far in the drive to vaccinate residents in the country. Moderna and Zuellig Pharma can now communicate with the Red Cross without a middleman, and as such, the process is greatly accelerated.

The Red Cross had started talks for 1 million Moderna doses with Zuellig Pharma in April, spending months in complex processes for the vaccines that will not arrive for a few more months. In contrast, the new order for 5 million vaccines has already begun document preparation and contract drafting, progressing quickly.

The need for Moderna vaccines in Thailand is fairly urgent as Sinovac, the most dominant vaccine used in Thailand, and Sinopharm that Chulabhorn Royal Academy privately imported, are severely less effective in battled the Delta variant of Covid-19 now common in Thailand. An mRNA vaccine like Moderna is far more effective against Covid-19 variants.

Unlike a separate order for 5 million doses the GPO also negotiated on behalf of private hospitals taking advanced bookings and deposits on vaccine appointments, the Red Cross announced their one million Moderna vaccines would be administered for free. It is unclear if the next 5 million in the process now for delivery next year will also be free of charge.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World


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Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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