Siriraj doctor calls for end to Sinovac imports

Siriraj doctor calls for end to Sinovac imports

The government should stop importing Sinovac vaccines as they are not effective enough to fight the Delta variant of Covid-19, a medical expert said.

Speaking in a Clubhouse chatroom, Prasit Watanapa, dean of the Faculty of Medicine of Siriraj Hospital, said Sinovac vaccines were not effective enough to boost immunity responses so they were not suited to deal with the highly-transmissible Delta variant.

"Pfizer vaccines are better. From now on, the government should avoid placing orders for Sinovac vaccines because they have efficacy problems. It should look at vaccines of high quality such as AZ [AstraZeneca] and J&J [Johnson & Johnson], mRNA vaccines and protein subunit vaccines such as Novavax,'' Dr Prasit said.

"The government should have ordered Pfizer vaccines last year. Thailand was able to control the outbreak back then so it did not order them. Now the government has ordered them, but it has to wait because we were too slow.

"One should not say that Sinovac vaccines are low quality because each type of vaccine can be used effectively in certain circumstances. But Sinovac vaccines may not be the only solution during the current situation where the Delta variant is rampant.

"I am not pro-Sinovac. I prefer high-quality vaccines. We should be open to other types of vaccines such as Novavax. They should be considered. This is what we are waiting for. Just order them."

Dr Prasit, who is also an adviser to the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said he has been told that 1.5 million Pfizer vaccine doses will arrive this or next month.

Initially, plans were to administer the vaccines to at-risk people, with a proposal put forward at a CCSA meeting that the vaccines should also be allocated to front-line health workers who have already received two shots, Dr Prasit said. They should be allowed to choose either AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines as booster shots, he said.

He also said Siriraj Hospital has placed an order for 20,000 Moderna vaccine doses through the Thai Red Cross Society and paid 26 million baht for them.

Meanwhile, several hospitals yesterday started mixing Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines to increase protection against the fast-spreading Delta variant after the CCSA approved the cross-vaccination method on Friday.

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