Leaked letter a blow to govt

Leaked letter a blow to govt

The leaked AstraZeneca letter concerning negotiations over the domestic production and supply of its vaccine in Thailand has proven a slap in the face to the government and hammers home the reality of mistakes made in its national vaccination programme.

What a pity that the government, and Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, in particular, are unlikely to ever own up to their mistakes.

The government has resumed a policy of strict lockdown measures as the number of new daily infections soars past the 10,000 mark, yet for the public, tough controls are hard to accept when the administration refuses to learn from past mistakes as it pursues another common policy -- that of blaming others for its own failings.

In the leaked letter from the company, dated June 25, and obtained by the Isranews Agency, AstraZeneca appears to directly contradict statements made by the government regarding supply.

Interestingly, the quantities mentioned by the pharmaceutical giant suggest the initial figures bandied around by the government bore little relation to the deal that had actually been struck.

"I hope that you will be pleased this is nearly twice the volume we discussed during our meeting on 7 September 2020, when your team estimated that Thailand's healthcare system required approximately three million doses per month," it said.

"At that time, we also explained the opportunity for the government to procure more vaccines at no profit through the Covax facility, which together with the direct purchase agreements constitutes AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine supply strategy," the company said in the letter to Mr Anutin.

The message from the letter is at odds with statements made to the public proudly announcing that a deal had been struck for the company to deliver 10 million doses per month.

When this figure was subsequently not met, the government accused the company of choosing to export two-thirds of the vaccine it was producing, leaving only only 5-6 million doses for domestic supply each month. It is now talking about placing curbs on exports of vaccines which it says are needed in Thailand, which could affect the company's clients elsewhere in the region.

So far, no one has come out to comment on the authenticity of the letter, despite Mr Anutin having claimed it was he who demanded the company supply at least 10 million doses a month.

As the Covid situation becomes more critical, the government only seems able to point more fingers.

Last week, the government blamed people for defying its previous restriction measures.

A few months ago, it also blamed people for lowering their guard, resulting in the new wave of coronavirus transmissions.

They put the blame on the public despite most major clusters being the outcome of corruption concerning smuggled migrant workers, and nepotism.

The government refuses to accept any blame for failing to curb Covid-19.

It has never admitted any blunders in allowing large crowds to return to their home towns during the Songkran festival and made excuses that its vaccine policy was devised when the situation was very different.

As the daily tally sets new records, the government must try to regain a sense of decorum.

Without owning up to its mistakes, it will be difficult find a lasting solution to this crisis.


Bangkok Post editorial column

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

Email : anchaleek@bangkokpost.co.th

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