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WHO approves Siam Bioscience’s AstraZeneca for emergency use

Neill Fronde



PHOTO: The WHO approved AstraZeneca vaccines produced by Siam Bioscience. (via Flickr Marco Verch)

Today brought good news for Thai vaccines as the World Health Organisation approved the Siam Bioscience-licensed AstraZeneca vaccine for emergency use. Siam Bioscience, a company wholly owned by a subsidiary of the Crown Property Bureau, was licensed last November to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine for domestic use in Thailand and for sale and distribution around Southeast Asia.

The director of the WHO’s Regulation and Prequalification Department wrote a letter to the director of the Supply Division of UNICEF in which the organisation recommended Siam Bioscience as an alternative manufacturing site for the vaccine.

The WHO reviewed data of the Thai-produced vaccines and considered the positive review from the Australia Therapeutic Goods Administration before their decision to recommend the Thai production of the vaccine for global emergency use. Australia’s TGA is the regulatory authority of record for the vaccine.

Siam Bioscience was created in 2009 to support the health and well-being of the Thai people as started by King Bhumibol Adulyadej and continued after his death 5 years ago. One year ago in November, the deal was made to produce AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines in Thailand for use in Southeast Asia, with a letter of intent signed by AstraZeneca, the Ministry of Public Health, Siam Bioscience, and Siam Cement Group. A subsequent full production agreement was sign a short time after.

Siam Bioscience was mainly producing biopharmaceuticals to facilitate sustainable health care, strengthen public health, and reduce dependency on imported medicines and active ingredients. Critics complained that the company lacked experience with producing vaccines, especially at this scale.

The company came under fire after delays plagued foreign orders and the amount of vaccines Siam Bioscience planned to deliver for domestic use in Thailand dwindled again and again. Controversy arose as medical experts clashed with legal experts over attempting to bar the company from exporting vaccines when Thailand so desperately needed them.

The new approval from the WHO adds Thailand to the list of approved manufacturers that the global authority considers safe and viable for production and distribution of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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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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