Anutin vaccine plan comforts investors

Anutin vaccine plan comforts investors

State allows private hospitals to import

A health worker prepares a syringe with the Covid-19 vaccine Sinovac at the Bang Khae market in Bangkok. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
A health worker prepares a syringe with the Covid-19 vaccine Sinovac at the Bang Khae market in Bangkok. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The government does not plan on preventing private hospitals from importing Covid-19 vaccines from any producers after they are approved from the Food Drug Administration, while pledging to deliver 61 million vaccine doses to vulnerable populations by the end of this year, says Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul.

A concrete vaccine plan is one factor expected to build up investor confidence, causing analysts to upgrade their forecasts for the SET Index this year.

Mr Anutin was invited by the Federation of Thai Capital Market Organizations (Fetco) yesterday to meet with securities analysts and provide updates on the progress of the vaccine plan, including the government's scheme to reopen the country. These plans are thought to be guidelines for determining the direction for Thailand's economic recovery.

The plan calls for the government to deliver vaccines to vulnerable populations such as medical workers, the elderly, and residents in areas with high infection rates or tourist areas, as well as border provinces. This plan excludes children under 18, expectant mothers, and patients under medical supervision.

As most vaccines require two doses for immunisation, the 61 million doses the government procured earlier this year covers roughly 30 million people, mainly those considered vulnerable. A local manufacturer Bioscience is scheduled to start producing AstraZeneca vaccines later this year, and the government expects the entire Thai population will be inoculated by next year.

Foreigners working in Thailand will also be required to get vaccinated and employers should be responsible for the expense, he said.

Thais who refuse to get the vaccine will be prohibited from leaving the country, Mr Anutin said.

He said in April the government expects to procure 1 million more vaccine doses, of which 100,000 will be allocated to Phuket and 50,000 to Koh Samui, both major tourist attractions.

Paiboon Nalinthrangkurn, the chairman of Fetco, said the government and related entities need to closely monitor the vaccine rollout and assess if the effort is working because it is a very important factor to boost investor confidence.

Mass inoculation is also a catalyst for the country reopening to foreign tourism, especially the tourism sandbox scheduled to start in Phuket and then expand to Koh Samui and Chiang Mai.

If the vaccine plan succeeds, Thailand will benefit greatly from the revival of international tourism income, including business trips, he said. If the plan fails, tourism will continue to decline and hamper economic growth.

The SET Index has already exceeded pre-pandemic levels and analysts are expected to revise their targets for this year, said Mr Paiboon.

Tourism-related stocks are expected to directly benefit from the vaccine plan. He recommends investing in companies that are not debt-ridden and that have high liquidity.

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