Thailand receives 1.05 million doses of AstraZeneca donated by Japan
Thailand received 1.05 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Monday, donated by the Japanese government, amid difficulties in local production of the vaccine by the Thai firm Siam Bioscience, which is now expected to deliver about half of the scheduled amount over the coming months.
Still in home isolation, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha hosted the handover ceremony via teleconference today, with Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and Japanese Ambassador to Thailand Kazuya Nashida physically present.
The ambassador said, on behalf of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, that Japan hopes this donation will help Thailand’s vaccination campaign.
1,053,090 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, produced in Japan, were delivered on Friday, after the contract was signed on June 29th.
According to that contract, the Thai government is prohibited from using the vaccine for military purposes or giving it to other countries, agencies or any individuals without Japan’s permission.
Most Thai medical personnel have been fully inoculated with China’s Sinovac vaccine, amid the slow local rollout of AstraZeneca, but some have still contracted COVID-19. As some medical findings indicate that the Sinovac vaccine is ineffective against the highly contagious Delta variant, calls have been made to give medics a third booster shot, using mRNA vaccines.
Thailand had received 6 million doses, as of early July, with AstraZeneca fulfilling its June quota. According to the National Vaccine Institute (NVI), however, about 5-6 million doses are expected to be delivered per month thereon, as opposed to the 10 million doses a month until November, as initially planned. Meanwhile, Siam Bioscience began exporting to other Asian countries this month.
According to NVI Director Dr. Nakorn Premsri, the Thai firm has the capacity to produce about 16 million doses in July and in August, and the Thai government’s AstraZeneca purchase contract does not specify the amounts to be delivered each month.
The lack of AstraZeneca vaccine has led to more orders for China’s Sinovac, 14.5 million doses of which have been received to date.
Meanwhile, the Disease Control Department proposed yesterday the use of AstraZeneca vaccine as third “booster” shot for medics, as the country still awaits the arrival of 1.5 million doses of Pfizer vaccine donated by the US government, which was decided last week by the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) to be administered to medics.