Thailand may have to wait for vaccines

Thailand may have to wait for vaccines

This illustration picture taken in Paris on Monday shows a syringe and a bottle reading
This illustration picture taken in Paris on Monday shows a syringe and a bottle reading "Covid-19 Vaccine" next to the Pfizer company logo. (AFP)

Thailand may have to wait to acquire doses of Pfizer and Moderna's Covid-19 vaccines when they become available as batches are likely to be made available in the United States and Japan first before the rest of the world, according to a Thai doctor. However, the kingdom still has options to obtain other coronavirus vaccines.

Pfizer and Moderna, US pharmaceutical companies, recently announced their experimental vaccines against the virus were about 95% effective. Some countries have already begun to preorder the vaccines despite challenges in maintaining low temperatures during transport.

Dr Kiat Ruxrungtham, director of Covid-19 vaccine research and development project of the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, said Pfizer and Moderna are likely to be the first in succeeding in producing vaccines. However, Thailand may not be able to acquire a batch as the US and Japan have preordered 300 million and 120 million doses, respectively.

Dr Kiat said 11 other pharmaceutical companies are developing Covid19 vaccines that can be distributed at a large scale. Also, Thai researchers are preparing to have their vaccines commence human trials in April.

However, Dr Kiat raised concerns that BioNet-Asia Co's jab may be lagging behind due to the short supply of vaccine precursors, as many have been bought by other big companies and a shortage of funds.

A team has been testing Cu-Cov19, an mRNA vaccine, on macaques at Chulalongkorn University's National Primate Research Centre in Saraburi. BioNet-Asia is the centre's partner.

He said the project has not had sufficient funding from the government, but the state is finding ways to preorder Covid-19 vaccines from Covax, a company working with the World Health Organization and cooperating with AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

Anutin Charnvirakul, Public Health Minister, said the budget for Thailand to acquire vaccines is six billion baht, a cost that covers operations, tubes and syringes. He said imported vaccines will only come in bottles.

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