The Minister of Public Health has applauded the National Vaccine Institute (NVI) for its efforts in combatting Covid-19 while also defending Siam Bioscience's role.
Speaking at the institute's 10th-anniversary celebration, Anutin Charnvirakul expressed his appreciation for NVI's long-standing devotion to helping Thai people and for its ambition during the recent global pandemic.
"Under the institute's guidance, we obtained our first lot of Sinovac vaccine in February last year. The institute also was crucial in Thailand producing the AstraZeneca vaccine at our Siam Bioscience facility," he said.
He rebuffed criticism made earlier by former Move Forward Party leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit that the ministry's vaccine policy put an undue amount of trust in Siam Bioscience, given that the company had never produced such a vaccine before.
The minister pointed out that Siam Bioscience received a licence to produce a viral-vector vaccine from the UK-based AstraZeneca company. He stressed it was the Ministry of Public Health's responsibility to secure the latest vaccine technologies including mRNA-based vaccines for Thais, both by importing doses and producing them in Thailand.
He added that the ministry's promise to provide 100 million vaccine doses in 2021 was fulfilled as well, and that the ministry continues to acquire and produce different types of vaccines based on people's needs.
Mr Anutin said the ministry has enthusiastically given its full support to the institute throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. The NVI, he said, has proved itself an invaluable component in maintaining the country's health security, especially in regard to vaccine production, and in assuring Thailand is self-reliant and able to deal with the current health crisis and any emerging diseases in the future.
During the Covid-19 period, he said the government allocated a budget of more than 40 billion baht for controlling the disease, with a significant portion of the funds going towards vaccine research and development. It was in this regard, he said, that the NVI showed its true worth.
The event yesterday was organised by the NVI to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its establishment and affirm a commitment to supporting private-sector vaccine development.