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Thailand increasingly blaming caucasians for coronavirus crisis

Jack Burton

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Thailand increasingly blaming caucasians for coronavirus crisis | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Public Health Minister Autin Charnvirakul complains of foreigners not wearing facemasks - The Thaiger
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As the global epicentre of the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic shifts from China to Europe, racism is not far behind, least of all here in the virus-hit kingdom of Thailand.

With new restrictions on inbound travellers now in place, including mandatory health certificates and proof of health insurance, caucasians (white skinned westerners aka. ‘farang’) are increasingly being blamed for the country’s growing outbreak.

The total confirmed cases reached 721 today as 122 new cases were announced, a drop from yesterday’s record 188. Thailand has so far reported only one Covid-19 related death.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has publicly blamed “dirty” Caucasian tourists for spreading the virus. His xenophobic comments have been shared with a level of local online approval.

“90% of Thais are wearing masks. However, none of the Caucasians are wearing masks. This is the reason our country is being infected. We should be more careful of the Caucasians than Asians.”

“Right now, it’s winter in Europe, and with the coronavirus outbreak, they have all fled the cold and the virus to come into warm Thailand. Many of them are dirty and do not shower,” the minister tweeted in Thai at the start of the month.

The tweet was deleted hours later, after it was widely condemned. It was not immediately clear where Anutin, a construction tycoon rather than medical professional, got his 90% statistic for mask-wearing Thais.

The Health Ministry later said that while the Twitter account in question did indeed belong to Anutin, his staff sometimes post tweets on his behalf. Anutin himself, who is often questioned about his prime ministerial ambitions, has not publicly apologised for the tweet.

On February 7, Anutin, whose family runs the Sino-Thai Construction company, said on-camera during a Health Ministry media event in Bangkok (while clearly not wearing a mask)…

“Those damn Caucasian tourists, that is something the embassies should be notified of, and the public as well, that they are not wearing medical face masks. They need to be kicked out of Thailand!”

Such racist remarks risk hitting the nation’s already devastated tourism industry, which accounts for as much as 14-18% of GDP and has previously relied heavily on high-spending Western travellers.

Officials have provided conflicting, overlapping and often contradictory information regarding travel restrictions, especially over key issues like whether they have or haven’t been imposed on certain countries. While health authorities say most of the new cases have been local transmissions among Thais who recently travelled to heavily infected countries, including Italy, Japan and South Korea, westerners are nonetheless bearing much of the blame.

A March 15 The Thaiger wrote and editorial criticising Anutin for his racist taunts to westerners.

Tourists and expats have expressed fear that the health minister’s anti-Western messages could spark racist attacks against them in the street.

The sudden rise of anti-Caucasian racism follows an earlier surge of anti-China sentiment when the virus first appeared in Thailand in January. Then, Thai officials tried to repress, rather than stoke the xenophobia.

In Chiang Mai, police told a Thai restaurant owner in February to remove a sign in front of her eatery which said in English: “We apologise we are not accepting CHINESE customers. Thank you.”

The Thaiger recommends wearing a face mask in public whilst in Thailand as a public assurance for Thais and an acknowledgment of their preference to wear a face mask, whether of medical value or not, at this time.

SOURCE: The Asian Times

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ian

    March 23, 2020 at 4:52 pm

    Thailand licking china’s arse because they want their dirty money.
    It has long been known that they don’t want Falang tourists. I only come here now because my wife is Thai, otherwise I would go to countries where I am welcome!

  2. Avatar

    Taxsin

    March 23, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    Mr Anutin is really a person of no interest and with poor education. it seems like his minister status is bought too him with his money and he is doing no good for his country at all. Rip him of his minister status and let him go back to bricklaying instead!

  3. Avatar

    Geoff

    March 24, 2020 at 8:56 am

    Face masks are doing double duty in Chiang Mai with the world beating air pollution we are suffering with again at this time of year as well as the virus threat — so many people farang and Thai are wearing masks up here. Maybe the Health Minister could come up with a better government solution to the air pollution problem, which isn’t, incidently , caused by dirty farang — just saying “burning is banned” doesn’t appear to be solving the problem.

  4. Avatar

    Frank Hartley

    April 5, 2020 at 7:27 pm

    The Thai health minister has always been blaming Caucasians or falang for spreading the Covid19 instead of his own people. Just recently a Thai women flew from Germany to Krabi and she had a cold and coughing. When she fell ill on arrival Thailand she still went round to visit everyone and spred the virus, being very selfish. Now the government have to try and find all the people on the plane plus the people she met in various locations, this is Thai attitude not Falang thank you…..please put the blame on everyone not just Caucasians in general, its not appropriate at these un certain times………

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

19 new Covid-19 cases detected in quarantine

Caitlin Ashworth

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19 new Covid-19 cases detected in quarantine | The Thaiger

19 new Covid-19 cases were detected in quarantine, according to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. Thailand’s total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases is raised to 3,961 with 3,790 recoveries and 60 deaths. 111 people are currently receiving medical treatment for the coronavirus.

  • 4 Thai nationals travelling from Saudi Arabia, including a 40 year old teacher and 3 students ages 5, 10 and 12, tested positive for Covid-19.
  • 3 people travelling from the United States, including a 61 year old American and 2 Thais, ages 30 and 75, tested positive for Covid-19.
  • 2 Indian nationals, ages 32 and 40, travelling from India tested positive for Covid-19.
  • 2 Thai nationals, ages 26 and 52, travelling from Germany tested positive for Covid-19.
  • 2 Thai nationals, ages 30 and 37, travelling from the Republic of Georgia tested positive for Covid-19.
  • A 27 year old Thai national travelling from the United Kingdom tested positive for Covid-19.
  • A 30 year old Thai national travelling from Luxembourg tested positive for Covid-19.
  • A 31 year old Thai national travelling from Sweden tested positive for Covid-19.
  • A 42 year old Italian national travelling from Italy tested positive for Covid-19.
  • A 69 year old Omani national travelling from Oman tested positive for Covid-19.
  • A 41 year old Thai national travelling from Poland tested positive for Covid-19.

19 new Covid-19 cases detected in quarantine | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Questions raised over AstraZeneca “dosing mistake” in vaccine trials

The Thaiger

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Questions raised over AstraZeneca “dosing mistake” in vaccine trials | The Thaiger

British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca announced this week that their experimental coronavirus vaccine candidate is, on average, 70% effective. But since Monday’s announcement vaccine experts from around the world have questioned the methodology of the trials and transparency of the announced Phase 3 trial results.

The questions and uncertainty of the AstraZeneca vaccine trials will set back the timing for the vaccine to be authorised other parts of the world. Scientists are curious why the company has pooled results from different trials, saying that this “deviates from standard reporting on clinical trials”.

AstraZeneca announced last Monday that the participants in the UK had been given 2 different courses of the candidate vaccine.

The drugmaker, who co-developed the vaccine with the University of Oxford, didn’t explain why they used 2 different dosing regimens, or why the size of one group was significantly smaller than the other.

• In one group, 2,741 participants received a half-dose of the vaccine followed by a full dose at least 30 days later. This group was 90% protected against Covid-19.

• In the second group, 8,895 participants received a full dose followed by another full dose a month later. This group was only 62% protected.

The 2 trials, when averaged, according to AstraZeneca, gives their vaccine its reported 70% effectiveness. But epidemiologists say that the small number of people in the low dose group make it difficult to know if the effectiveness “was a statistical quirk”.

David Salisbury, from the global health program at London-based Chatham House, said another area of confusion was that the studies pooled results from the two groups to reach an average of 70% efficacy. Speaking to AP…

“You’ve taken two studies for which different doses were used and come up with a composite that doesn’t represent either of the doses. I think many people are having trouble with that.″

Then, Mene Pangalos, head of biopharmaceuticals research and development at AstraZeneca, responded to Reuters saying that a “lab error” was the reason why some volunteers had received a smaller dose… the dose that proved to be 90% effective.

“The reason we had the half dose is serendipity, Researchers had underpredicted the dose of the vaccine by half.”

Then, the next day, University of Oxford chimed in in a statement… “dose selection for any new vaccine is a complicated area, and in exploring methods of dose selection, we discovered one gave a lower dose than expected.”

“A difference in the manufacturing process had led to the error.”

AstraZeneca say that these “manufacturing problems” have been corrected, noting that the UK regulator overseeing the trial had agreed to include “both approaches” in Phase 3.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, Menelas Pangalos said that the mistake is actually irrelevant.

“Whichever way you cut the data, even if you only believe the full-dose, full-dose data, we still have efficacy that meets the thresholds for approval with a vaccine that’s over 60% effective.”

The trial’s lead investigator at Oxford University, Professor Andrew Pollard, as part of the announcements on Monday, said that’s the issue is likely to do with the delicate balance of dosing someone just enough to trigger an immune response against the disease.

“What we’ve always tried to do with a vaccine is fool the immune system into thinking that there’s a dangerous infection there that it needs to respond to, but doing it in a very safe way.”

“So, it may be that the best way of kicking the immune system into action could be to give the body a small amount of the vaccine to begin with, and then follow up with a larger amount.”

Responding to whether he had genuine confidence that the half-dose group’s 90% success was not just a feature of a small sample size, Pollard said that result was “highly significant…even with the numbers that we have.”

Moncef Slaoui, a US-based researcher and former head of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines department who leads the US coronavirus vaccine program, says they were reviewing AstraZeneca’s vaccine data.

He noted that group that got the lower dose that yielded the 90% efficacy had been a younger group, with no one older than 55.

“That could potentially affect the strength of AstraZeneca’s findings, given that young people typically produce stronger immune responses to vaccines. We want it to be based on data and science.”

Natalie Dean, assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida said that the AstraZeneca/Oxford University team “get a poor grade for transparency and rigour when it comes to the vaccine trial results”.

“This is not like Pfizer or Moderna where we had the protocols in advance and a pre-specified primary analysis was reported.”

AstraZeneca shares have fallen 12% since November 11.

SOURCE: Euro News | Reuters | CNN

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Thai government to sign vaccine contract with Oxford University, AstraZeneca, today

Maya Taylor

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Thai government to sign vaccine contract with Oxford University, AstraZeneca, today | The Thaiger
PHOTO: www.aseanthai.net

The Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha, has confirmed that Thailand will today sign a contract with Oxford University and pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, for the procurement of their Covid-19 vaccine. The PM says the agreement will mean Thais can access the vaccine once it goes into production. This contract is in addition to the agreement signed for the transfer of vaccine technology that will enable it to be manufactured here.

Earlier this week, the team behind the vaccine announced that it was between 70-90% effective, depending on the dosage. The discrepancy raised some questions, as it appeared the vaccine was more effective when administered first as a half-dose, followed by a full dose, rather than when 2 full doses were administered. The team now says it may carry out another global trial to determine why the lower dose appears more effective.

The PM points out that one significant advantage the vaccine has is that it can be stored at temperatures of 2 – 8 degrees Celsius, unlike those of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, which need to be stored at much lower freezer temperatures (around -70 degrees Celsius, in the case of the Pfizer jab). Such a requirement could create a logistical nightmare for some countries.

The PM says the vaccine is likely to be approved and go into production in Thailand by the middle of 2021, adding that the quicker it’s available, the quicker the tourism sector and the overall economy will recover.

According to a Thai PBS World report, the PM says many other countries have signed similar deals with pharmaceutical companies, in order to guarantee access to effective vaccines for their citizens. Meanwhile, he adds that, until the vaccine is available, people should continue with hygiene measures such as mask-wearing in public spaces, hand-washing and social distancing, in order to avoid the repeat waves of the virus that other countries are having to deal with.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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