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US calls meeting with Thai officials to resolve donated vaccines

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: The US and Thailand discuss delivery of the 1 million Pfizer vaccine donation.

The saga continues for the additional 1 million Pfizer vaccines that the US donated to Thailand that has been lost in bureaucratic red tape. The United States has now said they will organize a meeting with Thai authorities to discuss the delivery of the donated vaccines.

Previously, Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul denied claims that he had dropped the ball on receiving the vaccines and claimed the US never gave notice through proper channels. Then US Senator Tammy Duckworth was quoted as saying she told Thai authorities a month ago they need to complete the paperwork to receive the vaccines.

Now the Thai ambassador to the United States confirmed that US authorities contacted the Thai embassy in the US to arrange a meeting between the 2 countries next week to discuss the donation process. The same group had helped arrange the original 1.5 million Pfizer vaccines the United States donated nearly two months ago.

A spokesperson for the US embassy in Thailand meanwhile highlighted the complexity of the transfer. She said a number of mandatory legal and regulatory agreements must be hashed out between the giving and receiving country as well as the pharmaceutical companies involved before the vaccine delivery can proceed.

Furthermore, the pharmaceutical and medical companies involved need legal agreements and proper status with the Thai government to gain regulatory approval to handle the vaccine donation.

The embassy spokesperson said that the same process was hammered out before the previous 1.5 million doses were donated, begging the question of why there was so much bureaucratic fumbling to repeat the same process a second time.

“Next week, we hope to have a bilateral call to work through the legal, logistical, and regulatory items needed to move the doses. We look forward to welcoming the second shipment of vaccines to Thailand as soon as possible.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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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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