Govt denies delaying vaccine dose delivery
Khunying Sudarat says US keen to help, but stifled
The government has denied delaying the process of receiving another 1 million doses of Pfizer vaccines against Covid-19 to be donated by the US.
The move comes after Khunying Sudarat Keyuraphan, founder of the new Thai Sang Thai Party, visited Thai-born US senator Tammy Duckworth in Washington, DC on Wednesday.
They discussed Thai-US cooperation in fighting Covid-19. Ms Duckworth played a key role in helping to arrange the donation of 2.5 million doses for Thailand.
A total of 1,503,450 doses of Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Pfizer-BioNTech were delivered to Thailand on July 30.
The US embassy previously confirmed the United States will provide an additional one million doses on top of the 1.5 million doses, bringing its total donation to 2.5 million doses to help Thais fight the pandemic.
Khunying Sudarat, a former key figure in the Pheu Thai Party, said Ms Duckworth had expressed concern over the Covid-19 situation in Thailand and that she was willing to push for the US to donate the additional vaccine doses.
Khunying Sudarat quoted Ms Duckworth as saying the US informed Thailand in late July of its intention to donate 2.5 million vaccine doses.
The more than 1.5 million doses were already delivered, and there are an additional 1 million doses waiting to be sent to Thailand, she said.
During the conversation with Khunying Sudarat, Ms Duckworh was reported to have said: "All I can tell you is that I've been advocating for Thailand to get more vaccines ... and Thailand has a million doses waiting to go.
"But because Thailand has not finished the paperwork ... I know I told the ambassador a month ago that it needs to be completed. They said OK, they're going to work on it.''
The Thai government has not yet sent documents to inform the US of its intention to accept the vaccines, so the US still could not deliver them, Khunying Sudarat quoted her as saying.
In response, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the Foreign Affairs Ministry is responsible for processing protocol paperwork in relation to the matter.
For the donation of the 1.5 million-plus vaccines in late July, the US embassy sent documents to inform the ministry of its intention to donate the vaccines in advance.
As for the report that the US will send another 1 million doses, Mr Anutin said he heard the Foreign Affairs Ministry had not received any documents from the US.
Department of Disease Control director-general Opas Karnkawinpong denied Thailand had given a lukewarm response to the prospect of the US donating the additional vaccines.
He said the process of accepting vaccines donated by foreign countries involves the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Public Health Ministry.
"Since the first donation, the US still has not yet notified the ministries that it will donate any additional vaccine doses," Dr Opas said.
"Therefore, the report that Thailand has denied or failed to respond to the donation is not true."
That notification might be needed before the matter can proceed. The Bangkok Post on Thursday contacted the US embassy for clarification, but it declined to comment on the matter.