Thailand set to beat vaccination target with more booster shots

Thailand set to beat vaccination target with more booster shots

A woman receives a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Bang Sue Central Vaccination Centre in Bangkok on Wednesday, as the country speeds up its rollout of booster shots to guard against the Omicron variant. (AFP photo)
A woman receives a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine at the Bang Sue Central Vaccination Centre in Bangkok on Wednesday, as the country speeds up its rollout of booster shots to guard against the Omicron variant. (AFP photo)

Thailand is on course to surpass the goal of administering 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines this year, boosting its defence against the Omicron variant as the government weighs further easing of curbs on tourists.

A total of 98.4 million shots were administered as of Thursday, with 61% of the nation’s 72 million population completing a two-dose regime, data from the Health Ministry showed. An estimated 4.4 million booster doses have been given as well after the government accelerated third doses in the wake of the discovery of the Omicron strain.

With an average of 430,000 shots administered daily over the past month, Thailand is expected to hit the 100 million target by Dec 20, ahead of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s year-end deadline to achieve the milestone. The wider vaccination coverage has allowed the tourism-reliant nation to quell the worst wave of infections and ease curbs on businesses and travel.

“At the current pace of vaccinations, the country should reach 90% coverage by March, and with more vaccinations, there’d be less restrictions, more confidence and more economic activities,” said Somprawin Manprasert, chief economist at Bangkok-based Bank of Ayudhya Plc’s research unit. “This means that the economy will gradually recover, with domestic consumption expected to return to pre-Covid levels by the second half of next year.”

The country’s growth prospects have brightened in recent months with a pickup in economic activities following the lifting of most virus containment measures and a decline in new cases and hospitalisations. The number of new infections has dropped to about 3,000 cases a day from a peak of more than 20,000 in August, while active cases have fallen to 45,000, the lowest since late May, Health Ministry data showed.

The kingdom has so far confirmed nine imported cases of the Omicron variant and shortened the time gap for boosters for some vaccine brands. Authorities are now accelerating the booster rollout and aim to administer 54 million jabs next year.

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