Thailand’s continued efforts to bring in vaccines
Since last October Ministry for Foreign Affairs has held consultations with allies and friends to ensure that they will be able to provide vaccines if need be, according to the spokesperson, Tanee Sangrat.
In the press conference on Thursday, he said that Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai has been in touch with China, the US, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Switzerland to secure shipments of their vaccines through the past year.
Last October, Don held talks with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about the bilateral plan to fight the Covid-19. Both sides discussed vaccine cooperation and procurement. As a result, in April Thailand was the first country in ASEAN to purchase commercially Sinovac, the Chinese-made vaccines. Up til now, Thailand has imported a total of 10 million doses together with 1.5 million doses donated by China.
In the same month, Don also further discussed with dialogue countries that have vaccine surpass to swap with Thailand. These countries included the US, China, Japan, Australia, South Korea, and Switzerland.
To strengthen cooperation on global public health program with World Health Organization (WHO), Ministry of Foreign Affairs also contributed a total of US $200,000 to COVAX program administrated WHO. Although Thailand is a member of COVAX, which helps developing countries gain access to vaccines, Thailand can purchase, swap and sell vaccines to the WHO members.
According to Tanee, Japan became the second country to donate vaccines to Thailand. Last week, Tokyo delivered 1.05 million doses of Astra Zeneca to Bangkok. Japan and Thailand have excellent relations and they have been helping each other through bad and good times.
In the case of the US, Don held talks with his US counterpart, Antony Blinken as early as February when the two discussed the Covid-19 cooperation via telephone. During the visit of Wendy Sherman, Deputy State Secretary to Thailand in early June, Don also discussed bilateral cooperation on public health programs including research and training. The US has been a long-time developmental partner in health care. A few later, President Joe Biden announced that the US will provide 80 million shots to friends and allies. The first 25 million of 80 million would be contributed among the 16 Asian countries.
According to Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul, the US has decided to donate 1.5 million doses of Pfizers to Thailand. The delivery has been delayed due to technical reasons. Both sides are now finalizing the deal.
With the ongoing massive vaccination campaign, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue its efforts to reach out to countries that can supply vaccines to Thailand. Tanee added it is imperative for all the people inside Thailand to have inoculation.