Docs predict local jabs will run short
Siam Bioscience 'will under-deliver'
The Rural Doctors Society yesterday called on the government to enforce the law to require Siam Bioscience, a local authorised pharmaceutical manufacturer, to deliver vaccine supplies as planned.
On its Facebook page, the network claimed Siam Bioscience was likely to deliver only 4 million doses of vaccine this month, instead of 10 million doses as planned by the government.
According to the network, this would leave Thailand with China's Sinovac vaccine which some claim is not as effective against Covid-19 as the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The government has ordered 61 million doses of AstraZeneca jab and under its plan, the country will receive 6 million locally-produced AstraZeneca vaccines in June.
That rises to 10 million doses per month from July until November, with the last 5 million jabs arriving in December.
The society claimed that Siam Bioscience could manufacture about 15 million doses per month and only 25-30% would be delivered to Thailand and the rest exported.
It said the government was deemed reluctant to negotiate with the company or enforce any legal tools to secure the delivery of 10 million doses per month.
"If the country receives only 4 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine, Sinovac will become the main vaccine and we may have to import between 6-10 million doses per month.
"We'll get light armour, instead of medium armour. Thai medical workers aren't okay with that," said the society.
The network said the government has an obligation to ensure that Siam Bioscience can deliver as many as 10 million doses per month as the government claimed. Five million doses of the Sinovac vaccine can boost the vaccine supply.
It suggested the government enforce the 2018 national vaccine security law which allows the country to temporarily limit exports of AstraZeneca vaccine produced by Siam Bioscience in keeping with local needs.
According to the network, imports of the AstraZeneca vaccine should be limited to one-third of output and this should ensure the country receives 10 million doses per month as planned.
"This is the easiest way and most members of the national vaccine committee agree with this approach. We hope the government and the Public Health Ministry will speed it up and secure vaccines," said the society.
The group said the government is trying to tackle shortages of AstraZeneca vaccine and late delivery of mRNA vaccines via vaccine donation programmes. Such programmes are supplementary and should not be counted as the national inoculation plan.
According to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), almost 10 million jabs were administered during Feb 28-June 30.
Dr Apisamai Srirangson, CCSA assistant spokeswoman, said a total of 9,927,698 doses were given and of this 7,110,854 accounted for the first shots.
Bangkok was the province with the highest vaccination rate. A total of 2,411,559 people received their first shots, accounting for 31.3% of the population.