Thailand aims to secure 5-10 million Pfizer vaccines

FILE PHOTO: Pfizer vaccines may be coming to Thailand soon.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha announced yesterday that Thailand is negotiating to buy 5 to 10 million Pfizer-BoiNTech Covid-19 vaccines. 61 million SinoVac and AstraZeneca vaccines are scheduled for delivery over the next 9 months, but with limited effectiveness against the B117 strain and the third wave of Covid-19 spreading around the country, Thailand is trying to supplement its supply, in quantity and variety.

PM Prayut confirmed that terms and conditions, as well as pricing, are in the works and hopes delivery will be in July but could be as late as the end of the year. AstraZeneca jabs are expected to be widely available by July.

While Thailand received praise for very low Covid-19 infection numbers in 2020, the April third wave outbreak, mainly attributed to transmission in nightclubs and entertainment venues, has been much more widespread, and vaccinations have been slow and patchy. The Thai government is facing strong criticism over the slow rollout of vaccination, with only 666,000 jabs given so far.

As of now, over 45,000 people in Thailand have been infected with Covid-19 and 108 people have died from Covid-related illnesses. Record daily infections numbers have finally started to recede slightly, but yesterday saw 1,443 new Coronavirus infections and 4 fatalities. With infections now reaching all 77 provinces, and many classified as red zones, hospitals are filling up and the need for quick vaccinations is urgent and the Pfizer vaccines would be a welcomed arrival.

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The Thai government requires all Covid-19 infected people to be hospitalised for treatment or observation, even for asymptomatic cases. This has caused a shortage of hospital beds, with the creation of field hospitals and emergency facilities like the “hospitel” program to turn hotels into overflow hospitals.

Health officials are now looking at the possibility of allowing mildly infected patients to self-isolate at home if cases surge too high and hospitals reach capacity. Officials say there are 9,000 beds available now, 2,000 more than last week, and that people should get a bed within 1 to 2 days. The government is urging hospitals to double their ICU capacity as well.

SOURCE: Reuters

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Neill Fronde

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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