12 July 2024

A group of doctors, who call themselves “Mor Mai Thon” (Doctors won’t take it anymore) submitted its petition, bearing 215,409 signatures collected on change.org, to Thailand’s House of Representatives today (Wednesday), calling for mRNA vaccines to be the main type administered in Thailand for free, as well as for transparency in the government procurement processes.

The group, including other affiliated medical personnel, wore black in a gesture bidding farewell to those who have died from the coronavirus, with MPs from the ruling Palang Pracharat Party, the fellow government coalition Democrat party and opposition Pheu Thai and Move Forward parties receiving the petition.

Saying mRNA vaccines, which include Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, have higher efficacy, especially against new variants and in their significant ability to reduce severe cases and deaths from the virus, the group said they should be the main types used for mass inoculations, in light of the more transmissible Delta variant, which is expected to dominate COVID-19 cases in Thailand in the next 8 weeks.

The group also predicted a worsening situation over the next three months, judging by the current rapid spread of the virus in the capital.

Move Forward Party Leader Pita Limjaroenrat thanked the medics present at Parliament today, calling them “heroes” for sacrificing themselves in desperate times. He also called for the administration of mRNA vaccines to medics and other frontline staff as third “booster” shots, while reassuring them that the party will follow up on the government’s vaccine distribution.

In solidarity with the group, some doctors and nurses at the Maharat Nakhon Ratchasima Hospital in the north-eastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima are also wearing black today to call for government procurement of quality vaccines and to pay homage to the fatalities.

Meanwhile, a group of school and university students gathered in front of the Public Health Ministry today, calling for the procurement of quality vaccines for youths and the general public, instead of China’s Sinovac, the efficacy of which is being questioned.

Barred from entering the ministry to meet Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, the group laid cloth mannequins on the ground, daubed in red paint, to signify the deaths of people due to a lack of access to vaccines.

The Thai government is expected to receive 1.5 million doses of Pfizer vaccine, as a donation from the US government, in the coming weeks. The cabinet yesterday also approved the purchase of 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, expected to be delivered from October.

Another mRNA vaccine, Moderna, is expected to be ordered in early August, as an alternative paid vaccine at private hospitals, priced at 3,400 Baht. 3.9 million doses will be delivered in the fourth quarter of this year and another 1.1 million doses in the first quarter of 2022.

Thailand is currently administering Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines from China and the UK’s Oxford-AstraZeneca.