Thailand in talks to buy another 5m Sinovac shots

Thailand in talks to buy another 5m Sinovac shots

Anutin insists he also supports bid by private sector to import vaccines

Officials inspect a crate containing some of the 800,000 shots of CoronaVac that arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Saturday. (Photo from อนุทิน ชาญวีรกูล Facebook)
Officials inspect a crate containing some of the 800,000 shots of CoronaVac that arrived at Suvarnabhumi Airport on Saturday. (Photo from อนุทิน ชาญวีรกูล Facebook)

Thailand is in talks with Sinovac Biotech to buy another 5 million doses of CoronaVac after taking delivery of another 800,000 shots of the Chinese coronavirus vaccine on Saturday.

The latest shipment is earmarked for more health workers and at-risk groups nationwide, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul wrote on Facebook on Saturday.

The remaining 1 million doses of the country’s first order of 2 million shots from China-based Sinovac Biotech would arrive as scheduled next month, he added.

The country’s original agreement with Sinovac called for 2 million shots to be delivered. The first 200,000 doses arrived on Feb 24, 800,000 on Saturday, to be followed by 1 million due in April.

The government’s current plan calls for AstraZeneca to supply all of the  country’s remaining vaccine needs for the rest of 2021. A total of 26 million doses, made locally by Siam Bioscience, are to be made available from June to August, with another 35 million to follow from September to December unless changes are made to the plans.

Responding to calls for more choice of vaccines, Mr Anutin wrote that the ministry had never hampered efforts by the private sector to import vaccines or the registration of shots by other manufacturers.

“We stand ready to facilitate the private sector in importing the vaccines to serve people since the move would ease the burden of the government.”

A survey conducted by the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI) showed that 109 companies want to vaccinate as many as 51,000 workers once authorities approve private-sector imports of approved vaccines. The FTI hopes the jabs can begin in June or sooner.

To date, the country has received 1 million doses of CoronaVac and 115,000 doses of AstraZeneca for its vaccination programme, which is several weeks behind those of many other countries. 

According to official data as of Thursday, 61,791 people had received shots, with priority given to health workers (50.2%), frontline workers (11%), members of the public (32.4%), people with existing conditions (6.3%) and people aged 60 or more (0.02%).

In Samut Sakhon, authorities said on Saturday that they had used up the province’s allotment of CoronaVac and had begun administering 10,000 doses of AstraZeneca jabs delivered on Wednesday.

Of its allotment, 5,000 doses have been given to Samut Sakhon Hospital, 3,000 to Krathumbaen Hospital and 2,000 to Banphaeo General Hospital.

The province, which has accounted for 80% of the cases in the second wave of the outbreak that began in mid-December, plans to initially inoculate 3,000 of its 100,000 people aged 60 or older. It aims to finish vaccinating this group by April 4. 

Dr Naretrit Kattaseema, a provincial doctor, said doctors had yet to see  any allergic reactions to either vaccine.

The most common symptoms found after injection include pain, swelling and tenderness in the area, followed by nausea and headache.

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