France wins approval to vaccinate older expats
Thai health authorities on Friday gave permission for France to send 10,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses here to be used on French and Belgian nationals aged 45 and over.
The French ambassador to Thailand, Thierry Mathou, made the request during a meeting with Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul and the Belgian ambassador, Sibille de Cartier d'Yves.
Also present were permanent secretary for public health Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit and Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, head of the Department of Disease Control (DDC).
Mr Anutin said the French ambassador had asked if his compatriots could send a batch of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to Thailand.
The American version has already been approved by the Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Approval was duly granted and it is expected to arrive later this month.
The meeting also discussed cooperation on healthcare and trade issues, he added.
Mr Anutin said the Belgian ambassador had asked the government to provide healthcare services for Belgian expats, saying that the cost would be covered by Belgium's social security system.
He said the ambassador has promised to reciprocate by offering similar healthcare benefits to Thai nationals living in Belgium.
According to Mr Anutin, the proposal has been agreed in principle and will be implemented when a bilateral deal is reached.
China received permission three months ago to send over more than enough vaccine doses to cover its 150,000 expats in Thailand under Beijing's "Spring Sprout" programme and a vaccine site has been operational in Bangkok for several weeks.