It’s only the start of 2021 but here’s the challenge for the nation as they combat the spreading of coronavirus and by the end of February, Thailand is expected to start inoculating its citizens against Covid-19, with the goal of vaccinating at least 33 million people, half of the nation’s population, by the end of 2021.
If the Thai Food and Drug Administration apprenticeship starts, the South-East Asian country, fighting its largest wave of coronavirus infections since the pandemic started, will start with Sinovac Biotech doses. It plans to complete the distribution of two million Sinovac shots by April to healthcare and front-line employees, individuals with underlying disabilities, and those over 60 years of age.
The government of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has approved the purchasing of a total of 63 million doses and the National Vaccine Institute is in talks with several manufacturers as early as this quarter for additional supplies for distribution.
In view of this, the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines which are to be approved by the regulator this month is expected to be ready for distribution by the government in May. Along with this, Thailand has closed schools and shut down several industries temporarily to curb a revival that has seen Covid-19 cases more than double in less than a month to 10,834. The government is banking on broader vaccine availability to stamp out the virus and pave the way for its tourism sector, a lifeline for the economy, to reopen.
Consequently, given its sluggish rollout of vaccines compared to higher-income countries with a similar population, such as Britain, Thailand will meet the herd immunity threshold only in 2022. The delay resulted from the failure of the government to order vaccines in advance during the testing, when at the end of the trials there was no guarantee of viable shots.
Morever, Mr Nakorn shared that the agreement with AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, currently the nation’s largest supplier of vaccines, would also allow local production through technology transfer. Thailand can provide vaccines to people free of charge from more than 10,000 locations throughout the world. It will also allow private companies to import and sell certain vaccines licensed by the regulator of the country to individuals who can afford to pay.