FTI demands expedited vaccinations

FTI demands expedited vaccinations

Delta variant poses a risk for health sector

People queue to receive Covid-19 vaccinations at Bang Sue Grand Station. Varuth Hirunyatheb
People queue to receive Covid-19 vaccinations at Bang Sue Grand Station. Varuth Hirunyatheb

The Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) is urging the government to vaccinate 70% of the population earlier than planned as the country cannot wait until December, with risks mounting if a fourth outbreak is caused by the virulent Delta variant.

The federation made the call as health authorities on Tuesday warned the Delta strain was rapidly spreading throughout the country. Some 57 Covid-19 fatalities and 5,420 new transmissions were found on Monday, bringing the accumulated toll to 2,333 deaths and the number of cases since the pandemic began to 294,653.

Daily infections on some days have soared above 6,000, raising fears of an upsurge towards 10,000.

The Prayut Chan-o-cha government previously announced it would speed up vaccinations and inoculate 70% of the population by the end of this year to build herd immunity.

However, with the dramatic increase in infections, the government must increase its vaccination pace to reach the 70% threshold as soon as possible, FTI chairman Supant Mongkolsuthree said.

Authorities need to speed up the import of alternative vaccines that can better deal with the new strain of Covid-19, he said.

Failure to stop the spread of the virus will not only have a severe impact on the public health system -- currently on the verge of being overloaded -- but the economy will suffer as well, said Mr Supant.

Vaccines are essential for Thailand to escape the economic gloom, he said.

"The government should buy more vaccines and various brands. This is better help than giving people cash handouts under economic relief schemes," Mr Supant said.

The FTI wants to see the government come up with more plans to inoculate people and workers insured under Section 33 of the Social Security Act, as many of them work in factories, which are prone to outbreaks.

"The business sector cannot wait for the state's vaccine scheme because many factory workers have become infected. We are ready to buy vaccines," he said.

"We've reached a point that requires an immediate cure as concerns grow the pandemic will prevent our economy from moving forward."

Mr Supant is confident many people are ready to buy vaccines and protect themselves against the virus.

If the government cannot afford to buy other brands of vaccines, the private sector can help the government through a "new co-payment scheme" to jointly buy vaccines, he said.

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