Siam Bioscience was selected by AstraZeneca
Siam Bioscience was chosen by AstraZeneca after a detailed assessment and comparison against other institutions proposed by Thailand, according to the National Vaccine Institute (NVI).
Dr. Nakorn Premsri, the director of the NVI, said that AstraZeneca was the one who told Thailand that it would be better to reserve vaccines from them because they will be manufactured in Thailand. Dr. Nakorn added that the decision to transfer technology was made well before Thailand decided to procure vaccines from AstraZeneca.
There were over 60 laboratories and companies, from around the world, proposed to AstraZeneca to become its manufacturer. Siam Bioscience was one of 25 chosen.
One of the conditions Thailand has agreed with AstraZeneca is that Thailand will be the vaccine manufacturing base for the ASEAN region.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha warned the opposition Kao Klai (Move Forward) party that it must be held accountable if Thailand fails to receive the COVID-19 vaccines it has ordered because of the criticism of his government’s vaccine procurement plan by Kao Klai MPs during the censure debate.
During the censure debate yesterday, opposition MP, Wiroj Lakhanaadisorn, questioned the transparency of Thailand’s vaccine procurement, and asked why Thailand doesn’t order vaccines through the WHO’s COVAX body.
Dr. Nakorn said that, to reserve vaccines from any institute, the buyer has to pay a deposit first. For COVAX, the upfront payment is for management fees, with the vaccine cost to be calculated later, while the advanced payment to AstraZeneca is part of the vaccine’s actual cost.
Thailand is, however, still in talks with COVAX. He said, if the MP researches the information fully, he will find that the majority of the vaccine from COVAX is from AstraZeneca, with a smaller quantity from Pfizer.
Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health has unveiled its plan for first phase of inoculations, using two million doses of the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine, targeting specific types of recipient in 10 provinces in February and May.
As for the allegation that Thailand refused to buy vaccines from India, Dr. Nakorn said that this is false information. He said there was never a proposal from AstraZeneca in India. There was, however, a proposal to undertake joint research with another Indian company.
MP Wiroj also questioned the price which Thailand is committing to pay, which is higher than the price paid by the EU. Dr. Nakorn responded saying that the EU has different prices because it has been sponsoring AstraZeneca’s vaccine research.