PM bolsters pledge to give free jabs

PM bolsters pledge to give free jabs

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha reiterated half of the country's population will get free Covid-19 jabs this year.

As Thailand prepares to launch the first Covid-19 vaccinations next month, Gen Prayut gave details about free Covid-19 jabs on his Facebook page. He also announced a long-term plan to ensure Thais will have access to affordable and locally made vaccines.

He said the country will receive the first 200,000 doses of vaccine, made by Sinovac, a Chinese pharmaceutical company, in February and they have been reserved for frontline medical staff and elderly people at high risk.

The first lot is a part of two million doses which the government ordered from the company. Another 800,000 and one million doses will arrive later in March and April. Previously, the government pre-ordered 26 million doses from AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish company, and recently sought another 35 million doses.

He assured the authority and public health sector has prepared for local Covid-19 vaccine research and production. Gen Prayut said local pharmaceutical manufacturer, Siam Bioscience, received a concession from Oxford University/AstraZeneca to produce the vaccines. The company plans to produce 200 million doses annually.

Gen Prayut said medical institutes at the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chulalongkorn University, also planned to produce their own Covid-19 vaccine formulae.

"In a crisis, there are always opportunities. And in the Covid-19 crisis, we can turn Thailand into a medical hub," Gen Prayut said.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the government would not prohibit the private sector from importing vaccines.

He said the government will not monopolise Covid-19 vaccine supply in the country. "We only need to ensure any imported vaccines used are approved officially," he said.

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