500,000 more Sinovac shots arrive ahead of D-day

500,000 more Sinovac shots arrive ahead of D-day

Vaccine supplies are enough, say officials, while some hospitals have doubts

A woman receives her second Covid-19 dose while holding a sign that reads
A woman receives her second Covid-19 dose while holding a sign that reads "I've got 2 shots" at a market in Pathum Thani on Friday. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Thailand has taken delivery of another half a million doses of Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Sinovac Biotech and donated by Beijing.

The lot brought to 6.5 million doses the total Chinese-made jabs shipped to the country, both paid for by the Thai government and donated by China.

The Chinese Embassy Bangkok posted on its Facebook on Saturday morning that the delivery was the second of donated lots of 500,000 shots each.

In its post, the embassy said Sinovac is a widely used vaccine in the mainland. “From mid-December last year to the end of May, China administered 639 million doses and 316 million were Sinovac,” it read.

On Friday, Beijing announced that the company's CoronaVac vaccine had been approved for emergency use in children as young as three.

Thailand aims to secure 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to cover 50 million, or 70%, of its population by the end of this year.

From Feb 28 to Friday, 4.1 million doses, accounting for 6.3% of the population, had been administered. Of the total, 2.8 million were first doses, or 4.26% of the population, and 1.3 million were second doses (2%).

Of the 100 million doses Thailand plan to buy, 61 million are contracted to be delivered by AstraZeneca. A small batch of 117,000 doses was delivered in late February and 1.8 million more will come next week. More deliveries are due this month for a total of 6 million, with 10 million more doses to be supplied each month until the end of the year.

For Sinovac, 6.5 million doses have been delivered and around 2-3 million doses will be shipped each month until the end of this year.

Talks are  in progress to buy 20 million doses from Pfizer, with delivery expected in the third quarter of this year.

Authorities are also in talks to buy 5 million doses of Johnson & Johnson vaccine, with delivery estimated in the fourth quarter.

Mor Mai Prom?

Meanwhile, several hospitals, especially in the provinces, have delayed or rescheduled vaccinations for people who have registered through the Mor Prom app. They claimed to have been allocated far fewer shots than expected.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration are insisting that all people who had successfully registered through Mor Prom would definitely get AstraZeneca shots as scheduled, starting Monday.

Kiatiphum Wongrachit, permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry, said 240,000 doses of AstraZeneca were being sent to the provinces at the average rate of 3,600 doses each.

“This is just the first lot. Another 1.8 million doses made in Thailand will be gradually sent throughout this month,” he said.

Besides, he said, more Sinovac shots will also be distributed nationwide to supplement the mass vaccination drive beginning Monday. 

Relief in order

As vaccination is rolling out on a large scale, the National Health Security Office (NHSO) has announced financial aid for those suffering undesirable effects from the vaccines.

It will pay up to 400,000 baht in the case of death or permanent disabilities, 240,000 for organ losses or disabilities and 100,000 baht for undesirable or chronic symptoms.

NHSO secretary-general Jadej Thammatach-aree said the compensation was immediate relief — victims do not need to wait until an investigation concludes whether their symptoms are related to the vaccines or not.

This is unlike vaccine insurance policies offered by the private sector where doctors need to confirm whether the symptoms are caused by vaccines before payouts can be made. To date, there have been no cases that doctors have confirmed were caused by the vaccines.

“If anyone suspects they have developed symptoms that could be related to vaccines, they could apply for the aid, without further medical proof,” he said.

The financial relief will be paid five days after one of 13 subcommittees set up nationwide to monitor vaccinations makes the decision .

“Even when it is proved later that the damage was not caused by vaccines, we won’t ask them to pay us back.”

To date, he said, 260 people have applied and 162 have been paid. Most of the cases involved numbness after being vaccinated.


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