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Thailand’s poorer areas may suffer if vaccines funded by local municipalities



Thailand’s poorer areas may suffer if Covid-19 vaccine distribution is given the green light to be funded by local municipalities. Suspicions are already being raised as critics say many municipalities who offer to fund the vaccines may have alterior political motives. As many as 20 municipalities are reporting that they have already set aside funding.

Ratchaburi Town Municipality, for example, has set aside more than 200 million baht to purchase the Covid-19 vaccines but is waiting for the government’s approval to go ahead with local funding. In Bangkok, which has over 5 million residents, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is on standby to use 10 billion baht towards vaccinating its residents.

While those in charge of “richer” municipalities say they are confident they can afford Covid vaccines for their residents, their eagerness is being met with suspicion as local administrations historically have limited experiences and capabilities in this area. Many municipalities have shown to lack medical or public health specialists required to administer such vaccinations.

Nonthaburi Municipality mayor Somnuek Thanadechakul and other local administrators agree on the idea of inoculating residents using local funds as they say it can help speed up the vaccination process.

“If the government gives the green light, we can complete vaccinations in a month instead of three months.”

Pita Limcharoenrut, leader of the opposition Move Forward Party, disagrees as he says it is the responsibility of the government alone to get quality vaccines for everyone. If local administrations are allowed to buy vaccines, he says poorer ones will be at a disadvantage.

“It’s clear that local administrators are using this opportunity to boost their popularity ahead of the next elections.”

Former transport minister Chadchart Sittipunt, has also suggested that the BMA has enough funds to vaccinate 8 million people living in the capital for free.

“The BMA has enough money to shoulder this responsibility immediately.”

Elections for mayors and municipal council members are set to take place in the first half of this year, while Bangkok’s gubernatorial election is likely to take place in the latter half, in which Chadchart is contesting.

PM Prayut has, indeed, confirmed local administrations can acquire vaccines for their residents using their own funds. But the vaccines they purchase must be approved by the FDA to prevent possible side effects. The spokesman for the BMA, Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, is echoing those concerns as he says they are taking into consideration the safety and quality of the vaccines they receive.

“Talks are ongoing over vaccine imports. We are trying to get the vaccines as soon as possible, but they must be the best and safest.”

Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the Department of Medical Sciences, is also worried about quality and safety during inoculation and allocation of the vaccines and proposing a rhetorical question.

“Could there be misuse of vaccines that stray from the original goal and target group?”

PM Prayut has also joined in on the concerns by recently saying he wouldn’t let Thai people be “guinea pigs” and is waiting for see more evidence of the safety and accuracy of the vaccines.

According to the Public Health Ministry, Thailand is set to receive China’s Sinovac Biotech vaccine in 3 batches starting next month with the first batch seeing 200,000 doses arrive. 800,000 more doses are expected in March, and 1 million in April.

The government has also ordered 26 million doses from AstraZeneca in an agreement that facilitates a “knowledge transfer” for Siam Bioscience, a Thailand firm, to produce the vaccine locally. 35 million more doses from AstraZeneca are also reportedly planned. The government plans to have half of the population or 33 million people inoculated against coronavirus.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World


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  1. Jason

    Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    The availability and distribution of any vaccine (or a suite of them), should never be a matter of politics, although I have a sneaking suspicion it may become so, particularly if politicians have any influence over availability and or distribution. Vaccination is a matter of public health and should be distributed by health professionals and administered by health professionals.

    If the people sense the distribution of vaccines is subject to politics…expect protests and current political leaders being voted out.

  2. Phuket Tony

    Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 4:48 pm

    don’t worry Khun Thai…. even if you are consider lower class bracket, with less money.. because good news is that Covid isn’t affecting your nation, and now you can let let people with money be the Guinee pigs and suffer long term by taking a vaccine that has been rushed out..

    Public health has never been of any concerns for any of the worlds governments during this whole “pandemic” time.

  3. Issan John

    Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 5:02 pm

    It’s all a bit “dog in the manger”, as it often is.

    Allowing local administrations to buy and distribute the vaccine doesn’t make anyone worse off, it just makes some better off. I don’t see a problem with that, but I can understand why some do.

  4. Andri

    Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 7:16 pm

    According to different estimates up to 20% of the local GDP is related to tourism.
    Most of the workers directly and indirectly employed in the tourism sector come from the poorest regions.
    There is an easy fix : make the vaccine immediately available to all the residents of major tourist islands, let vaccinated tourist in those destinations and there will be enough moneys for everyone in poor regions to afford a vaccine.

  5. Hans

    Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 9:27 pm

    We get the vaccine for free in Sweden.
    But i wait until December before i take it to see if people get sick from it.
    I’m pretty sure that the vaccine is ok because they have vaccinated so many people in Israel and the jude don’t take any bad things

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    Dans les pays plats, au contraire, le moindre attroupement est dissipe, et le paysan novice, qui ne sait pas meme
    faire un retranchement, n’a de ressource que dans la pitie de son maitre et la continuation de son servage.
    massage lyon Ce fut
    alors que Orfanik lui proposa de recueillir, au moyen d’appareils
    phonographiques, les principaux morceaux de son repertoire que la
    cantatrice se proposait de chanter a ses representations

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