Nakorn says not joining Covax wasn't a mistake

Nakorn says not joining Covax wasn't a mistake

Nakorn Premsri, director of the National Vaccine Institute
Nakorn Premsri, director of the National Vaccine Institute

Nakorn Premsri, director of the National Vaccine Institute (NVI), has insisted that it was not a mistake for Thailand to skip joining the Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) programme when it was first introduced.

However, as the global Covid-19 vaccine situation has changed, Thailand will join the World Health Organization (WHO)-backed vaccine-sharing initiative.

Dr Nakorn said there are two schemes under Covax -- one covering advance market commitments (AMC), which aims to secure vaccines for 92 low- and middle-income countries, and one for self-financing participant (SFP) countries.

Thailand is not an AMC country -- but instead an SFP country -- because it is an upper-middle-income country, he said.

Dr Nakorn said as of Thursday, a total of 136 million doses were delivered to 136 countries that joined the Covax programme. This means each country received just 1 million doses on average, he said.

"It is the reason why Thailand didn't [initially] join Covax. We had to pay for the vaccine ourselves, and we didn't know how we would get it," Dr Nakorn said. "We did not make a mistake by not joining [Covax]."

Dr Nakorn said the global vaccine situation has been changing as manufacturers have been able to deliver sufficient numbers of supplies to high-income countries that booked doses in advance.

There will be a suitable time for Thailand to participate in the sharing scheme, he said.

"It is not a flip-flop of policy because the vaccine supply situation has [improved]," Dr Nakorn said. "To join Covax at this time will risk Thailand's vaccine procurement next year."

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