Nakorn says not joining Covax wasn't a mistake
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."