Details of vaccine procurement cannot be made public because contracts say so – DPM Wissanu
Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam explained today (Tuesday) that details of all vaccine procurement contracts, signed between the country’s Ministry of Public Health and vaccine producers, either for government inoculation programs or on behalf of private companies, cannot be made public because the contracts say so.
Talking to the media this morning at Government House, before the cabinet is due to consider the Public Health Ministry’s contract to procure the Pfizer vaccine, the deputy prime minister said that only contracts which need funding from the government need to be approved by the cabinet.
He insisted that COVID-19 vaccines are a sensitive issue, unlike other products, because the producers or the vendors, have the bargaining power.
Dr. Wissanu said that he had a chance to look at some of the contracts at the Ministry of Public Health and was baffled by the terms contained in them, stipulating that the producers will not be held accountable for delays in deliveries or, in some cases, the buyers cannot demand a refund or seek compensation for damages.
Most importantly, he said that all the producers and suppliers have one common clause in the contracts, namely that details of the contracts cannot be disclosed in public.
Dr. Wissanu further said that the vaccine contracts differ from one producer to another. Some contain generous terms, while others are tougher, such as the condition that, if the content of the procurement contracts is made public, the producers will stop selling their vaccines to the buyers.
“This explains why the government has been quiet about details of the vaccine procurement contracts,” said the deputy prime minister, as he maintained that the government has not lied to the public, “but, we cannot talk about some issues.”
He disclosed that there are now five vaccine brands procured by the government, to be provided to people free of charge.
They include Chinese-made Sinovac, AstraZeneca, produced locally by Siam Bioscience, Sputnik V from Russia, Pfizer, produced by Pfizer-BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson from the US. Sputnik V is the only one in the list not yet approved by Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration for emergency use in the country.
Chinese-made Sinopharm vaccine is being independently procured by the Chulabhorn Royal Academy with its own funding and inoculation is not free.