Thai Red Cross plans 1m free vaccines

Thai Red Cross plans 1m free vaccines

Order to be signed with Moderna

The Thai Red Cross Society will import 1 million doses of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to be given free to the public, its executive told a House panel yesterday.

The Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) will handle the imports of the vaccine on its behalf, Jirayu Huangsap and Teerat Samretvanich, Bangkok MPs of the opposition Pheu Thai Party, said yesterday.

While discussing the budget for the Public Health Ministry, the House panel probing the 2022 budget bill asked for details about the agreements with vaccine suppliers but was told they included non-disclosure clauses.

"We are not comfortable recommending approving the budget so we asked the Thai Red Cross Society whether it's possible for it to import some vaccines," Mr Jirayu said.

Tej Bunnag, secretary-general of the Thai Red Cross Society, told the committee his office had concluded talks to import 1 million Moderna Covid-19 vaccine doses, Mr Jirayu said.

On how soon the vaccine will arrive, Mr Tej said that depended on the GPO.

As of now, he expected it to come at the same time as the 5 million doses of the Moderna vaccine which the GPO planned to order on behalf of private hospitals.

The GPO said on Wednesday it would sign a supply agreement with the Moderna representative in Thailand on July 23 for a batch of jabs ordered for 285 private hospitals.

It did not mention the 1 million to be bought for the Thai Red Cross.

In the meantime, the GPO will sign contracts with the hospitals and accept their payments, a process expected to be concluded by July 21.

It is supposed to act as an intermediary in such cases.

The shipment will likely arrive in the fourth quarter of this year or the first quarter next year, GPO deputy director Sirikul Metheeveerangsan said on Wednesday.

The Red Cross is one of at least five health-related state agencies authorised to import vaccines.

According to the June 8 announcement of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, only the National Vaccine Institute, Disease Control Department, GPO and Chulabhorn Royal Academy or state agencies can purchase or collaborate to purchase Covid-19 vaccines.

Companies cannot import vaccines unless they work with these agencies.

In fiscal 2021 ending on Sept 30 this year, the Red Cross was allocated a budget of 8.9 billion baht, according to Budget Bureau documents.

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