WHO confirms Sinovac: Thailand proceeds as planned with 100 million doses by end of year

WHO confirms Sinovac: Thailand proceeds as planned with 100 million doses by end of year

The World Health Organization (WHO) on June 1, 2021, validated Coronavac COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use, giving its assurance that the vaccine meets international standards for safety, efficacy and manufacturing.

The Sinovac vaccine has also been approved by the Thai FDA for Emergency Use Authorization in preventing mild to serious illness and death from COVID-19. The vaccine is produced by the Beijing-based pharmaceutical company, Sinovac Biotech.

Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist, WHO, said, “The vaccines that will be used in the national roll out in Thailand – AstraZeneca and Sinovac – are effective. WHO has approved both vaccines for adults aged 18 and above, including elderly people, to prevent patients from getting sick or dying from COVID19. These vaccines have saved tens of thousands of lives around the world already. WHO also recommends that all eligible people living in Thailand get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as it is offered.”

Dr. Soumya added, “The risk of severe illness or death from COVID-19 is much higher than any serious side effects from the vaccines that have been reported. As for the effectiveness percentage, it is impossible to compare between the two vaccines because the studies were conducted in different test conditions under different circumstances.”

WHO strongly supports Thailand’s plan to vaccinate 50 million people by the end of the year. This vaccination plan is the best hope for improving the economy, including revitalizing tourism, and returning to pre-COVID work and schooling. Mass vaccination will also reduce current and future risk from variants.

Dr. Nakorn Premsri, Director, National Vaccine Institute (NVI), further explained about the vaccination plan that: “Our country’s target is 100 million doses to cover 70 percent of the population with two doses each by the end of 2021. Sixty-one millions of these will be AstraZeneca shots produced in Thailand. Around 10-15 million doses will be Sinovac shots which were first acquired for frontline health workers in February 2021. Moreover, the government is negotiating purchase deals for Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, and other vaccines which we hope to acquire within 2021.”

Dr. Sopon Iamsirithavorn, Director, Division of Communicable Diseases, Department of Disease Control (DDC), Ministry of Public Health, explained the vaccination plan: “Thailand has a clear policy that everyone, including foreigners residing in Thailand, will receive the vaccine and the budget has been planned. The top concern is to reduce severe illness and death and contain the spreading of disease.”

Dr. Sopon added, “We are now undertaking mass vaccinations starting 7 June 2021. First doses of these vaccines will be prioritised to the elderly over 60 years old and people in seven groups of underlying co-morbid conditions. The vaccines will go to most affected areas first to control the spread. Concerning the choice of vaccine, the criteria will seek to achieve the best results based on the medical condition of each individual. The vaccination capacity, including non-hospital vaccination venues, is 500,000 to 1 million doses per day.”

Dr. Jadej Thammatach-aree, Director, National Health Security Office (NHSO), said, “The government has set aside a budget for initial compensation in case of allergic reaction to the COVID-19 vaccines. If anyone has unpleasant symptoms, please contact the doctor or staff where you received the vaccine. The whole compensation process will be completed within five days. Moreover, you are still entitled to insurance coverage with any private companies. The government puts great emphasis on tracking symptoms to fine tune the efficiency of the vaccination plan.”

Dr. Daniel Kertesz, WHO Representative to Thailand, stressed that vaccinating as many people as possible in Thailand while maintaining other public health measures is the best strategy for ending the pandemic here.

“A lesson learned from elsewhere is that vaccination helps prevent serious illness and death, even if a new wave of spread happens. Moreover, you can protect yourself against COVID-19 by washing your hands regularly, wearing a mask, keeping at least 1 meter away from others at all times, and avoiding poorly ventilated indoor spaces or crowds. Even if you are vaccinated, please continue following these measures to protect those around you who have not yet received the vaccine,” concluded Dr. Daniel.

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