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Ministry of Public Health has Enough Supplies to Address COVID-19 Second Wave
Published: September 16, 2020 at 8:05 am
The Food and Drug Administration chief said that the Ministry of Public Health is sufficiently prepared to deal with a second wave of COVID-19.
If a new outbreak of the COVID-19 occurs when the country is reopened to foreign tourism, the Ministry of Public Health seems set and ready to spring into action to address new infections wherever they may be in the country.
This is what the Secretary General of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Surachoke Tangwiwat, revealed yesterday, Tuesday, in a press conference.
According to Dr. Surachoke, the Ministry of Public Health had already stockpiled much needed supplies to address the COVID-19 pandemic since its highest onset in March.
These include personal protective equipment like surgical masks, of which the Ministry has 43 million surgical masks already stockpiled. This should last up to three months’ use in case an outbreak does occur, the FDA chief estimated.
If supplies run low, there are 40 local factories that are primed to scale up their productions to continue to meet demand.
Other stockpiled PPEs include 1.4 million coverall suits, which should be enough for both the frontliners in the general population and for medical personnel, and 2.4 million N95 masks ready for use.
As for medicines, the FDA said that there are 590,000 favipiravir pills, as well as 400 tubes of remdesivir.
Favipiravir is an antiviral medication designed specifically to prevent replication of influenza viruses, thus potentially limiting the spread of viral infections in the body. It is thought to be effective as well against the COVID-19 as both influenza and coronaviruses replicate through RNA polymerase.
Remdesivir is another antiviral drug that was developed originally to combat the Ebola virus, and has showed promising results in accelerating the recovery rate of individuals in China moderately infected with the COVID-19. It also inhibits further infection by preventing viral replication.
Dr. Surachoke said that there will be ample supplies of favipiravir for the country’s medical industry to access, as the formula for the antiviral drug has been made available for purchase by pharmaceutical companies worldwide.
There are two of these companies in Thailand that own the formula and are ready to manufacture the drug in Thailand. They are both registered with the FDA.
In addition, Dr. Surachoke said that local research and development of a COVID-19 vaccine is progressing well.
There are currently three vaccines being developed in Thailand. One is virus-like particle being developed by the Faculty of Medicine of Siriraj Hospital, and the other one is a subunit vaccine being studied and developed by the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Chulalongkorn University.
The third one is a killed-virus vaccine, developed jointly by the National Vaccine Institute and the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.
Earlier this week, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced that it is seeking the Cabinet’s approval of a THB3 billion baht to further support the development of the three vaccines.
The government had already earmarked THB1 billion for the National Vaccine Institute to support its development of a local vaccine for the COVID-19.
Finally, Dr. Witoon Anankul, director of the Public Health Emergency Operation Center, said that there are 20,000 beds in each hospital across the country already prepared to admit patients during a second wave of infections.