11 July 2024

The Infectious Disease Association of Thailand (IDAT) is calling on the Thai government to procure mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, instead of China’s Sinovac, citing concerns over the Chinese vaccine’s efficacy against new variants, especially the virulent Delta strain.

The IDAT submitted a letter addressed to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha today (Wednesday), explaining that Sinovac is a whole virus vaccine, which may not be effective against the Delta or other new variants, citing lack of formal research into this type of vaccine, and that previous assessments were made when the Alpha variant was dominant.

The whole virus vaccine uses inactivated pathogens to trigger an immune response. Another Chinese vaccine Thailand has imported, privately through Chulabhorn Royal Academy, is Sinopharm, which is another vaccine of this type.

Sinovac’s CoronaVac has been the most commonly administered vaccine in Thailand to date, as the country awaits more doses of locally produced AstraZeneca and imports of other makes. Up to 10.5 million doses have been delivered from China. The UK’s Oxford-AstraZeneca, like Russia’s Sputnik V, is of the non-replicating viral vector type.

The association is, therefore, urging the government to procure more mRNA vaccines, which include Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, as soon as possible this year and more next year, due to their higher efficacies and the success of other countries in bringing the pandemic under control using mRNA vaccines.

It is also expressing concern that a lot more Sinovac vaccines are being procured this and next year. It will make up more than half of the planned 50 million doses to be procured next year – 28 million doses, against 22 million of other makes.

According to the association, the more and the faster mRNA vaccines are acquired, the better Thailand will be able to control the pandemic.

The Thai government has ordered 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, which are expected to be delivered in the final quarter of this year, while millions of Moderna doses are being ordered by private hospitals, through the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO), with deliveries also expected around October.