Anutin: AstraZeneca shots to be available as planned

Anutin: AstraZeneca shots to be available as planned

Vaccine will be ready in June as planned

An official at the Department of Medical Sciences tests AstraZeneca vaccine samples produced by Siam Bioscience on April 29 this year. (Photo by Thana Boonlert)
An official at the Department of Medical Sciences tests AstraZeneca vaccine samples produced by Siam Bioscience on April 29 this year. (Photo by Thana Boonlert)

Authorities have said more AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine will be delivered by schedule next month, following a concern the much-anticipated shots made by a local facility might not be available as planned.

Some vaccination centres reported on Monday that they had run out of AstraZeneca shots and had only the Sinovac vaccine to serve people.

The concern was further exacerbated by a plan to delay AstraZeneca second shots by four weeks for an interval of 16 weeks instead of 12 originally. Doctors based the decision on new research that levels of antibodies produced to fight off the virus are higher when the follow-up vaccine comes later.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Monday Thailand would take delivery of another lot of AstraZeneca vaccine in June.

He added, however, that this did not mean they would be available on June 1.

“If the shots made in Thailand are not ready, the company is bound to find them from somewhere else to fill our order as stipulated in the contract,” he said.

The government has not revealed the content of the contract despite numerous calls from opposition parties.

Mr Anutin said the company was well aware of Thailand’s vaccination schedule, implying it would be prepared to fill the order regardless of whether the local production facility is ready.

On June 7, vaccination on people aged 60 or more and those with seven underlying conditions who have registered through Mor Prom mobile application and health volunteers will begin.

People were told earlier that this group would get the shots from the first lot made by Siam Bioscience, a local company contracted to manufacture the vaccine for AstraZeneca.

But on Monday, Mr Anutin said all vaccines available in the country would be administered on this group, indicating Sinovac, the only other vaccine available here, would also be used.

Authorities last week approved the use of Sinovac vaccine on people aged 60 or more. Previously, it was not used in this age group due to a lack of trial by the manufacturer.

Earlier, it was reported that the locally made AstraZeneca vaccine will be delivered slightly ahead of schedule — 1.7 million of the first lot of 6 million doses would be available no later than May 21.

The original schedule calls for the first lot of all 61 million doses Thailand ordered to be shipped in June.

The AstraZeneca shots given to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Interior Minister Anupong on Monday morning were believed to have come from the same lot he had been given for the first shot.

Made by South Korea-based SK Bioscience, they were part of the 117,000 doses Thailand took delivery in late February, according to the image of a vaccine certificate shown in Thai media.

To date, Thailand took delivery of  6 million doses of Sinovac vaccine from February to May this year. Of them, 3.6 million doses were distributed, 400,000 are being delivered to target areas and 2 million were being checked for production quality, according to Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration data as of May 22. 

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