Let's have vaccine clarity

Let's have vaccine clarity

The government's immediate tasks are to ensure the Thai people will have access to safe and fairly priced Covid-19 vaccines, preferably from diverse sources, and rev up education campaigns about their efficacy and risks.

The politicking and attempts to suppress criticism of its vaccine procurement plans should not be priorities.

It does not bode well that the government appears intent on its defending itself from criticism and revenge.

National immunisation is not just an unprecedented undertaking with many details about vaccines' transportation, risks and efficiency to be taken into account but also one where hope lies for people to return to a new normal life and the economy to restart.

There is no room for errors or unprofessional behaviour. Clarity and honesty would be a good start.

Bombarded by criticism that it has been too slow and overly reliant on two sources, AstraZeneca and Sinovac, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha tried to explain the government's immunisation strategy last Sunday.

The PM was far too keen on defending the government than shedding light on the crucial vaccine drive. Although he addressed some of the main points of criticism, the PM offered no new information.

His claims and promises also appeared unsubstantiated, with little or no detail at all.

For example, the PM insisted that the government's vaccination programme, set to start in June, is not late.

He cited as an obstacle delays in production and deliveries. That is understandable. But that does not mean the immunisation drive is not late.

The government itself estimated that without adequate immunisation, the country will not be able to restart the economy and that will result in about 250 billion baht in lost revenue a month.

The PM must own up to the fact that neighbouring countries who joined the Covax programme led by the World Health Organization have received their doses and are already preparing roll-outs.

There is no getting around the fact that Thailand is being left behind. The PM should focus his efforts on expediting the mass immunisation rather than trying to deflect criticism.

Although Gen Prayut insisted that the government is not relying only on the two sources and plans to secure more vaccines from other producers, he fell short of providing more details that would substantiate his claim.

It is well-known that there are not enough vaccines on the market and countries are competing to ensure they have enough if not more than what they need for their entire populations.

What deals are the government pursuing? How plausible are they? When will such vaccines arrive and at what prices? This is what the PM should have revealed to the public instead of just unclear promises.

The public health minister has only made things worse. Bent on protecting himself and the government, Anutin Charnvirakul essentially told people to keep quiet and stop questioning the vaccine procurement and immunisation plan. He also told other politicians who are not in the government to keep their advice to themselves.

Mr Anutin's tantrum only reinforced his image as being out of touch.

The vaccination programme involves everyone in the country. It's the economy and well-being of all Thais that are at stake. Everyone has the right to scrutinise what the government has done so far and whether they have made the right decisions.

More importantly, the government must be held accountable for its national vaccination decisions.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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