The government may resort to local production if negotiations fall apart.
Thailand’s national government is now wary of the possibility of a second batch of delivery of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine due to the recent measure passed by leaders of the European Union that restricts deliveries to other countries while the EU’s orders have not yet been completed.
This second batch is expected to arrive in June.
Public Health Ministere Anutin Charnvirakul said that the government is now commencing negotiations with the European countries that are supplying vaccines, like Pfizer in Germany. However, he said that whatever decision the EU and the manufacturers in its jurisdiction decide, it is beyond the government’s control.
“We have already done everything we can on our part,” he stressed.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha also added that, while the government has exerted efforts to secure enough supplies for the Kingdom, the countries and companies that own the vaccines are the ones to decide on the matter.
“Talks have been conducted about the orders of the vaccine we made and we have been assured that we will get the supply that was agreed on,” the PM said.
“[W]e will still have to wait and see what the country owning the vaccine will do next,” he added.
AstraZeneca is already preparing a batch of 50,000 doses that will be delivered to the Kingdom next month. However, this month is intended to front liners working in the healthcare industry treating patients of the COVID-19.
People with existing health conditions in the provinces affected by the second outbreak will also be included in the recipients of this batch of the vaccine, COVID-19 vaccine management committee Sophon Mekthon added.
Specifically, doses will be allocated to the abovementioned group of people in the provinces of Samut Sakhon, Nonthaburi, Samut Prakan, Pathum Thani and Tak.
A second batch of AstraZeneca vaccines is expected to arrive in June, and will be distributed to other groups as the government sees fit. However, with problems arising that affect the delivery of this second batch, Dr. Sophon said that the Kingdom will most likely use a locally produced version of the vaccine.
The government had previously signed an agreement with AstraZeneca that involved a transfer of technology and license to Siam Bioscience Group to locally produce the vaccine in Thailand.
According to PM Prayut, they are also working to accelerate the process of technology transfer so the Kingdom could locally produce its own vaccines while negotiating with European countries.
Dr. Sophon further said that the first batch of vaccines will be administered as the first of two inoculations as necessary to provide immunity to the virus. The doctor said that they will most likely start vaccinating in the third week of February.
The second round will be inoculated to recipients 12 weeks later.
Dr. Sophon also said that migrant workers can receive vaccinations but will have to enter into co-payment plans with their employers.
PM Prayut has reportedly asked Dr. Sophon and his committee to present a vaccination distribution plan to ensure that everyone gets the chance to be vaccinated. This will be discussed in the next Cabinet meeting.