The Thai government is looking into regulations for exporting the locally-made AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, possibly limiting the volume shipped overseas. The consideration comes as Thailand battles its most severe wave of Covid-19 and the emergence of the highly transmissible Delta variant. The number of active cases continues to hit record highs. With a limited supply of vaccines, health officials have shifted their vaccination drive to focus on those most at risk of infection, starting with residents in Bangkok, the epicentre in the latest wave.
The director of the National Vaccine Institute told Reuters reporters that the country’s health ministry will talk with AstraZeneca about securing a sufficient amount of doses for Thailand before issuing an order on exports, which could impact the supplies scheduled to be shipped to other Asian countries.
“Right now we will talk with the vaccine manufacturer so they can deliver the vaccine to Thailand in a suitable manner that matches the outbreak situation in the country.”
Siam Bioscience is intended to be the Southeast Asia distribution hub for the AstraZeneca vaccine. The company, which is owned by a subsidiary of the Crown Property Bureau, did not respond to comment on the possible export regulations. Last month, the Philippines and Malaysia reported delays in their deliveries of the vaccine. Some reports say it was due to production problems, but no official statement has been released by Siam Bioscience.
Thailand’s July order was even cut from its 10 million doses to just 5 to 6 million, causing health officials to change the focus of the national vaccination plan to concentrate first on those in Bangkok who are at a high risk of infection.
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