11 July 2024

Thailand’s former public health minister, Clin.Prof. Emeritus Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn has been appointed head of an ad hoc panel to procure alternative brands of COVID-19 vaccines for the Thai people, besides AstraZeneca and Sinovac, after the CCSA has agreed to allow the private sector to participate in the procurement of an additional 10 million doses.

CCSA spokesman Dr. Taweesin Visanuyothin said today (Friday) that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha admitted at the CCSA meeting today that he feels uncomfortable over the confusing reports that the government’s vaccine management allegedly favours certain companies and monopolises the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, preventing other companies from procuring alternatives.

The current situation is that there is an increased demand and the 61 million doses of AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines, already bought, will not be enough to generate herd immunity, which requires 45 million people in the country to be inoculated, he said, adding that the CCSA has agreed to procure another 10 million doses from sources other than AstraZeneca and Sinovac, and the private sector will be allowed to get involved in the process.

The ad hoc panel will comprise representatives from the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the director-general of the Disease Control Department, the director of the National Vaccine Institute and president of the Private Hospital Association and Dr. Piyasakol, also an advisor to the CCSA, as the head of the panel.

The panel will report back to the prime minister within a month.

Currently, three vaccines have been registered in Thailand.  They are AstraZeneca, Sinovac and Johnson & Johnson, but there are more vaccines in the global market, including Sputnik, Moderna, Sinopharm and Pfizer.

Dr. Taweesin said that most private hospitals do not have sufficient vaccine, because more people have gone to private hospitals for inoculation, adding that the prime minister has asked health officials to speed up inoculations.

The prime minister, meanwhile, assured that the government has no intention to block the private sector from procuring vaccines, pointing out, however, that there is a problem of registration of other vaccines, which involves the FDA and GPO, which is yet to be resolved.

The prime minister pointed out that slow or fast vaccination is not the problem, but the problem rests with the vaccines available, adding that, although there are several brands of vaccine, the government must make sure that the vaccines used are safe.