Thailand in talks to buy vaccines from Europe

Thailand in talks to buy vaccines from Europe

People wait in line to be vaccinated at The Mall Gang Kapi in Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)
People wait in line to be vaccinated at The Mall Gang Kapi in Bangkok on Thursday. (Photo by Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The government is in talks with European countries to purchase millions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines, a health official said on Thursday, as the country tries to speed up its inoculation rollout to contain a wave of infections.

Authorities in Thailand have been scrambling to shore up vaccine supplies, despite the country being the production hub for AstraZeneca shots in the region.

Last week, the government said it would borrow 150,000 AstraZeneca doses from the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.

"Some countries may have a surplus of AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines and will be able to sell 2-3 million doses each month," senior health official Kiattiphum Wongrajit told a briefing.

Dr Kiattiphum did not specify any European countries involved in the talks. So far, about 9% of the population of more than 66 million have been fully vaccinated as it deals with its deadliest outbreak of the coronavirus.

The majority of the country’s 1.1 million infections and 10,314 fatalities came after April this year due to the highly transmissible Alpha and Delta variants, though infection rates have shown signs of easing.

"New cases have peaked and new infections will gradually decrease," Dr Kiattiphum said.

On Monday, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said AstraZeneca would deliver 61 million doses that were previously delayed by the end of this year.

The coronavirus taskforce will decide on Friday whether to relax lockdown measures, including a proposal to shorten a nighttime curfew and allow dining in at restaurants for those who are vaccinated or have been recently tested, he said.

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