Kingdom signs deal to secure vaccine
Thailand officially signed an agreement on Friday with AstraZeneca securing the kingdom's access to the company's Covid-19 vaccine and authorising the right for a local manufacturer to produce it.
Opas Kankawinphong, the director-general of the Disease Control Department, and Nakorn Premsri, director of the National Vaccine Institute, signed the deal with James Teak, president of AstraZeneca Thailand, at Government House.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha presided over the signing ceremony.
The contract is worth 6 billion baht.
ACM Sathitphong Sukwimol, the company chairman of Siam Bioscience, a local pharmaceutical company, also attended the event.
Siam Bioscience plans to produce AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine at its manufacturing plant in Pathum Thani province.
The number of doses to be supplied to Thailand was not disclosed on Friday.
However, Gen Prayut reportedly said on Thursday that the contract was for the purchase of 26 million doses, enough for 13 million people, as each person needs two shots.
The government had approved a budget of 6 billion baht to secure a Covid-19 vaccine and produce more with Siam Bioscience.
In addition to supplying the vaccine to Thailand, AstraZeneca will also support the local mass production of the doses by Siam Bioscience.
Countries are reportedly rushing to secure access to Covid-19 jabs after news of progress in various vaccine projects.
AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish multinational pharmaceutical company, also signed a deal with the Philippines for 2.6 million shots of its vaccine.
Malaysia, meanwhile, announced an agreement with Pfizer Inc to obtain enough of its jab to vaccinate 6.4 million people.
Gen Prayut expects vaccination will start sometime next year and the government will be ready to give all people access to it, government spokesman Anucha Buranachaisri said.
The government has prepared a research and development fund for Thailand to produce the AstraZeneca/Oxford formula locally.
Siam Bioscience reportedly hopes to supply Asean with the vaccine.
AstraZeneca is currently in the last stage of vaccine trials before seeking final regulatory approvals for broad distribution of the long-awaited vaccine against Covid-19.
Thailand has recorded 3,961 confirmed infections, including 60 deaths.