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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Vaccine Update: With limited doses, Thai government focuses on “at-risk” groups

Caitlin Ashworth

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Photo via Facebook/ กรุงเทพมหานคร โดยสำนักงานประชาสัมพันธ์ (Bangkok Metropolitan Administration)

With limited doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, along with the rapid spread of the Delta Covid-19 variant, the Thai government’s mass immunisation campaign will first focus on using those doses to inculcate “at-risk” groups, starting with those in Bangkok, the epicentre of the latest wave.

This month’s order of AstraZeneca vaccine doses was cut in half from 10 million to 5 to 6 million, which is under the target set by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration. The AstraZeneca vaccine is being produced locally by Siam Bioscience, which is wholly owned by a subsidiary of the Crown Property Bureau. The Thai manufacturing plant is planned to be the distribution hub for Southeast Asia, but last month, several countries reported delays in deliveries, said to be due to production problems.

The vaccine campaign is now focusing primarily on those most at risk of infection, according to Ministry of Foreign Affairs Department of Information News Division director Pensom Lertsithichai, who gave the daily CCSA report in English.

“Within this month of July, AstraZeneca will deliver 5 to 6 million doses of vaccines, which will not meet our current demand and target. Therefore, the CCSA is planning to resolve this issue by administering most of the 5 to 6 million doses of AstraZeneca to the priority risk groups first.”

Expats are included in the Thai government’s vaccination campaign. Foreigners in Bangkok who are 60 years old or older, or who have an underlying health condition that puts them at risk of a severe infection, can pre-register for a Covid-19 vaccine. For more information, go to ThailandIntervac.com.

Health officials plan to inoculate the vulnerable groups in Bangkok within this month and more vaccines will be allocated to the general public by August, Pensom says, adding that some appointments might be delayed. Additional Sinovac vaccines have been procured to help meet the target of 10 million doses administered per month, she says.

Other vaccine updates…

Yesterday, the Thai Cabinet approved the procurement of an additional 30 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine including 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 10 million doses of the Sinovac vaccines. The Pfizer vaccine is planned to be delivered to Thailand in the fourth quarter of the year while the additional Sinovac doses will arrive in the next 2 months. The vaccines will be administered to the public, free of charge.

The Cabinet also approved the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to be offered at private hospitals as an alternative, paid option for the public. The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation is negotiating with the company on behalf of the private hospitals.

The CCSA is also in the process of procuring vaccine doses from other manufacturers, Pensom says.

 

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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