Thailand to receive additional AstraZeneca jabs from Asia factory, amid EU export row

PHOTO: Reuters

AstraZeneca says it will send 150,000 doses of its Covid-19 vaccine to Thailand from a plant in Asia, as a result of an EU ruling that restricts exports of the vaccine to countries outside the bloc. The doses had been due to come from Italy.

Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul says officials have received a letter from the pharmaceutical giant that explains what measures are being implemented to avoid supplies being disrupted as a result of the EU ruling. In the letter, the firm calls on the government to approve the new licences and permits required, as the previous approval granted by the Food and Drugs Administration only applies to supplies coming from Europe.

Thailand is still expected to take delivery of 50,000 doses from Europe imminently, but the next 150,000 due to arrive in March and April will now come from Asia. Anutin says health officials still expect to meet the government’s vaccine rollout target.

“We have put our best efforts in to secure vaccines, and we are expecting good news to come shortly. If we get it, it will allow us to test our vaccine distribution network. Anyway, even if we don’t get it, it won’t have an impact on our plan to give 26 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to Thais in June.”

He has also downplayed the urgency for vaccines, saying the outbreak in the central province of Samut Sakhon is now under control. Local health officials have announced tough new restrictions for factory workers in the province in an effort to suppress the spread of the virus.

Anutin says Thailand has secured an additional 35 million doses of the AstraZeneca jab, giving it 61 million doses in total. This is enough to vaccinate 30 million Thais. Anutin points out that it’s up to AstraZeneca to ensure delivery, regardless of plans to produce the vaccine locally through Siam Bioscience.

“We have signed a contract with AstraZeneca for at least 61 million doses, not with Siam Bioscience. If Siam Bioscience’s plant can’t produce the vaccine, it means nothing to us. This is because the purchase agreement clearly stated that AstraZeneca will provide the vaccine, not Siam Bioscience.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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