Prayut defends govt virus crisis handling

Prayut defends govt virus crisis handling

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in Parliament on Thursday:
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha in Parliament on Thursday: "In short, Thailand has seen a low mortality rate but we must do more to prevent deaths." Parliament photo)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha defended the government's handling of the Covid-19 crisis and vaccination policy on the third day of the censure debate on Thursday.

He said over the past 20 months of living with Covid-19, Thailand's handling was above average.

According to Gen Prayut, Thailand's infection rate was 1.8% with a mortality rate of 0.96%, compared with the global infection rate of 2.8% with a fatality rate of 2.1%.

He also said the government had succeeded in containing the spread of the Delta variant, citing the higher number of discharged patients.

However, Gen Prayut said the government would try to further lower the number of infections and fatalities.

"In short, Thailand has seen a low mortality rate but we must do more to prevent deaths," he said.

He defended the government's vaccination policy, its deal with AstraZeneca and the decision not to join Covax, an international vaccine-sharing scheme administrated by the World Health Organization (WHO).

He expressed confidence the deal with AstraZeneca in which Siam Bioscience was contracted to produce the vaccine will benefit the country in the long run due to its technology-transfer agreement.

The government came under fire for not ordering enough vaccines, causing hiccups in the vaccine rollout and a switch to the mixed dose approach in which people would receive AstraZeneca as the second shot after the first dose of Sinovac.

Gen Prayut also warned opposition MPs to be careful when criticising a certain vaccine as it could hurt bilateral ties.

"Vaccines are a delicate issue and devaluing certain vaccines when there are no facts can have consequences. I urge you to use discretion and you will have to take responsibility for your comments," he said, clearly referring to the Chinese Sinovac vaccine which has been proven by some local research to be less effective against the Delta variant.

Former New Economics Party leader Mingkwan Saengsuwan spelled out 13 issues ranging from the vaccine policy to the borrowing plan to the use of the Pao Tang e-wallet to support his decision not to cast a vote of confidence for Gen Prayut.

"Covid-19 and the economy are related and they are matters of life and death for Thai people.

"You should step down and let people who understand the situation resolve the situation. I have no confidence in Gen Prayut," he said.

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