Thailand is planning to roll out a new vaccination initiative using a mix of AstraZeneca and Pfizer doses next month to combat Covid-19, according to the Public Health Ministry.
Dr Sophon Iamsirithavorn, deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said the ministry's Covid-19 operation centre approved the AstraZeneca-Pfizer vaccination plan.
The rollout is expected to begin next month after the delivery of Pfizer vaccine doses later this month, he said, adding the decision to do so was based on recommendations from a sub-committee on immunisation and new local and international research findings.
Under the new mix-and-match vaccination plan, people aged 18 and over will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine as their first shot and the Pfizer vaccine as their second after four to 12 weeks, Dr Sophon said.
The current mixed-dose vaccination uses the Sinovac vaccine as the first jab and the AstraZeneca as the second after three to four weeks.
"The mass rollout is planned for October when we have the Pfizer vaccine," Dr Sophon said. "About 10 million doses are scheduled to be delivered this month."
He said the AstraZeneca-Pfizer vaccination initiative is currently in limited use. The Pfizer vaccine is administered as a second shot to vulnerable groups who received the AstraZeneca vaccine in June, he said.
Dr Sophon said the country is unlikely to procure additional Sinovac vaccine doses following the rollout of the AstraZeneca-Pfizer vaccination initiative.
"We're waiting for the second generation of inactivated vaccine that can fight variants and is highly safe," he said. "We will consider buying this vaccine if children can use it."
He said recipients of two Sinovac vaccine doses will receive the AstraZeneca jab as a booster shot.
Dr Sophon said the country will have 15 million vaccine doses this month.