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Update on Asia’s quest for a Covid-19 vaccine

Anukul

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Update on Asia’s quest for a Covid-19 vaccine | The Thaiger
PHOTO: xinhuanet

Partnerships have formed between some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, as well as collaboration between countries as Asia’s best minds are working together in a bid to be the first to create a Covid-19 vaccine. Here is an update on four leading countries in Asia, in the search to find a cure for the notorious Covid-19 virus which was swept the globe.

India

India’s ability to deliver cost-effective and quality generic drugs, such as those that helped millions to live with HIV, has earned it the reputation of being a “pharmacy of the world”

This quality has raised great importance in the global search for potential treatment options and vaccines for Covid-19.

Indian pharmaceutical companies, for example, rapidly increased the production of hydroxychloroquine in April and are now helping to meet the growing demand for antiviral drugs believed to be aiding Covid-19 patients.

Thailand

Bionet-Asia, a Thailand-based company, is competing with other companies and institutes around the world to produce a vaccine for the Covid-19 virus. It has diverted all of its resources, including 200 people, to accelerate the development of a gene-based vaccine.

Bionet Chief Executive, Pham Hong Thai told The Straits Times… “We have already ordered millions of vials even though we don’t know yet if the vaccine will work in humans. In fact, given the constraints on flights around the world, Bionet preferred to ship the vials by air rather than by sea.”

“No one wants to be in a situation where they have the vaccine working in humans but then discover they are missing the passage containers or stoppers to supply the vaccine, So there is a race, there is a restriction, there is a shortage of materials – not only of active ingredients.”

Update on Asia's quest for a Covid-19 vaccine | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Bangkok Post

Singapore

In Singapore, they are working on vaccine production capacity, so production can be accelerated quickly and safely once a Covid-19 vaccine is found.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday at the Global Virtual Vaccine Summit, the vaccine production will offer fill-and-finish contract manufacturing services to vaccine developers.

Fill-and-finish processing includes the contamination-free storage of medications in containers such as vials or syringes. It plays a vital role in increasing the production of vaccines for populations because many biopharmaceutical products are unstable and vulnerable to contamination.

Singapore’s innovation in biomedical sciences paid dividends during the Covid-19 pandemic, with the biomedical engineering industry being a bright spot in the struggling economy.

“The demand for healthcare products has not been affected and is generally quite resilient,” said Goh Wan Yee, Senior Vice-President of Health at the Economic Development Board (EDB).

EDB data last month showed that biomedical manufacturing was the main bright spot in Singapore’s manufacturing plant in April.

Update on Asia's quest for a Covid-19 vaccine | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: GLAXOSMITHKLINE

Indonesia

Indonesia ‘s main pharmaceutical firms and their international partners have entered the race to develop coronavirus vaccines that killed nearly 1,800 people and infected more than 29,000 in the world’s fourth-most populous country.

The state-owned Bio Farma was established in 1890 and is the only vaccine producer in the country. They are also collaborating with the Chinese biopharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech to produce a vaccine that should be available in Indonesia early next year.

Dr Neni Nurainy, senior integration manager of Bio Farma’s research and development project, said the cooperation would quickly make the vaccine available in Indonesia, home to some 270 million people.

He added… “Bio Farma will source the active pharmaceutical ingredient from Sinovac, then formulate and do the fill-finish part.”

Update on Asia's quest for a Covid-19 vaccine | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Straits Times

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My name is Anukul, I a writer for the Thaiger, I specialise in translation articles and social media, and assisting with our video production. I previously worked at Phuket Gazette and attended BIS international school in Phuket.

Tourism

Thailand to introduce “area quarantine” for international visitors from April

Maya Taylor

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Thailand to introduce “area quarantine” for international visitors from April | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Andreas M on Unsplash

From next month, foreign visitors to the Kingdom will be able to experience the delights of “area quarantine”, after the government confirmed the scheme for 5 provinces. Following a meeting with the Public Health Ministry, the Tourism Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn confirmed that Phuket, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Chon Buri (Pattaya), and Surat Thani (Koh Samui and Koh Pha-ngan) have been chosen to pilot the scheme.

Foreign tourists opting for area quarantine will be required to remain in their hotel rooms for the first 3 days of their stay. They will be tested for Covid-19 and, if negative after 3 days, will be allowed to leave their room and roam freely around the resort for the remainder of their 14-day quarantine. At the end of the 14-day period, they will once again be tested for the virus and, if negative, allowed to travel around the quarantine area.

In order to avail of the scheme, tourists will still need to fulfil the other requirements for travel, including obtaining a Certificate of Entry, a negative Covid-19 test 72 hours prior to travel, and adequate health insurance. Nation Thailand reports that the area quarantine plan will be run by 29 travel agencies, under TAT supervision.

The area quarantine scheme comes as the TAT hails the success of the first “golf quarantine” scheme, which operates in a similar manner. Travellers from countries considered “low-risk” for Covid-19 can come to Thailand for a golf holiday at approved golf resorts in the Kingdom. Conditions are similar to those attached to area quarantine, with the golfers having to spend the first 3 days in their room, test negative for the virus, and then enjoy free rein of the resort, with a few rounds of golf thrown in.

Thailand’s economy has been decimated by the fallout from the pandemic, in particular the loss of international tourism. The current mandatory 14-day quarantine period is seen as the biggest hurdle to overcome in order to re-ignite the sector. In 2019, international tourism contributed 2 trillion baht out of a total 3.01 trillion baht tourism trade. In the same year, tourism made up 17% of Thailand’s GDP.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Tourism

Thai Air Asia urges government to re-open the country to foreign tourism

Maya Taylor

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Thai Air Asia urges government to re-open the country to foreign tourism | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Wikimedia

The low-cost carrier, Thai Air Asia, is calling on the government to accelerate the re-opening of the country to international tourism. TAA chief executive Santisuk Klongchaiya says Thailand risks losing its status as a regional hub if the country does not re-open soon in order to re-ignite tourism and airlines. According to a Bangkok Post report, he warns that Thailand could lose out to places like Vietnam, should international carriers decide to move direct flights to other countries.

“After facing the pandemic for a year, the key factors that can strengthen Thai tourism are re-opening borders and financial aid such as soft loans to help airlines maintain their business and save jobs. If the plan to welcome foreigners is not ready, Thailand may lose those potential tourists to other competitors that have prepared to attract them with a practical scheme.”

TAA is one of 7 local carriers that have been calling for a 14 billion baht soft loan since March last year. In 2020, the airline reported 16.2 billion baht in total revenue, a year-on-year decrease of 61%, with a 57% drop in passenger numbers. Santisuk says the carrier is planning for similar numbers this year, with 15% of total passengers expected to come from the international market in the last quarter of the year. He is also hopeful that cost-saving initiatives, such as placing some staff on furlough, should help lower operational costs by up to 20%.

In other tourism-related news, the Tourism Authority of Thailand says it will add a further 2 million room nights to the “We Travel Together” domestic tourism stimulus campaign. TAT is also planning another scheme aimed at tour operators, between now and July. TAT governor Yuthasak Supasorn says the scheme will be put to cabinet for approval next week. TAT is proposing a “buffet-style” ticket scheme for airlines, aimed at frequent travellers. Passengers receive their subsidy once they use the first flight that is linked to a hotel booking at their destination. Each tour operator can have up to 3,000 customers.

“These additional stimulus measures will boost travel sentiment for the upcoming regional holiday in the North on March 26, as well as the Songkran festival.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

CCSA Update: 1 death, record low daily case count since start of the recent Covid-19 wave

Caitlin Ashworth

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CCSA Update: 1 death, record low daily case count since start of the recent Covid-19 wave | The Thaiger
Photo via Facebook/อนุทิน ชาญวีรกูล

54 new Covid-19 cases and 1 death were reported today in the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration’s daily briefing. Thailand now has 515 active cases, a record low since the start of the new wave of Covid-19 infections. An enormous 1-day spike in cases was reported on December 20 with more than 500 cases among migrant workers at a Samut Sakhon fishing hub. The virus quickly spread to the majority of Thailand’s provinces.

The number of daily cases continues to be on a downward slope with Samut Sakhon now the only province classified as a “red zone” under maximum control.

Since the start of the pandemic, the CCSA has reported a total of 26,162 infections and 85 deaths. Out of the new cases reported today, 36 were exposed to the virus at areas considered to be at “high risk,” including 28 in Samut Sakhon, 2 in Bangkok, 1 in Nakhon Nayok, 1 in Pathum Thani and 1 in Chon Buri. Active case finding detected another 8 cases in Samut Sakhon. The other 10 cases were detected in quarantine for those entering Thailand from overseas.

A 63 year old Thai man in Bangkok died after testing positive for Covid-19. He had underlying conditions of diabetes and high blood pressure. On January 9, he developed symptoms of a cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing. He tested positive for Covid-19 that day. He was put on a ventilator on January 12. His symptoms worsened and he died on Sunday.

CCSA Update: 1 death, record low daily case count since start of the recent Covid-19 wave | News by The Thaiger

CCSA Update: 1 death, record low daily case count since start of the recent Covid-19 wave | News by The Thaiger

Active Covid-19 cases in Thailand as of 3 March 2021, according to Worldometers.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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