Health officials are aiming to inoculate half of Thailand’s population, which amounts to about 33 million people, with COVID-19 vaccines for free by the end of this year. The first 200,000 doses will arrive from China next month.
Seventy million doses will be provided to people in the country free of charge, Medical Sciences Department Director Supakit Sirilak said yesterday. Of that, 2 million doses of CoronaVac, made by China’s Sinovac Biotech and due in February, are set to be given to highest-risk groups to kick-start the vaccination drive. The first 200,000 doses of the vaccine will arrive in Thailand in February, followed by 800,000 in March and 1,000,000 doses in April.
CoronaVac has not completed its Phase III trials, which are still underway. Preliminary findings show it to be 91% effective.
By May, Thailand will have 26 million vaccine doses of the AstraZeneca Oxford vaccine, which was developed as part of a global partnership of lesser-developed nations. Thailand contributed THB6.4 billion in exchange for the processes necessary to manufacture it domestically, which has already begun.
The AstaZeneca vaccine has completed its trials, but at 70% is much less effective than competitors approved so far. The government is currently negotiating with COVAX, the WHO-led program created to share the vaccine with less wealthy nations, for more supplies, according to Supakit.
It is also trying to obtain supplies from Pfizer/BioNtech (95% effective) and Moderna (94%), Supakit said.
Siam Bioscience CEO Songpol Deechongkit said that they will be able to manufacture 15 million to 20 million doses a month, or 200 million doses in the year, once production ramps up under Food and Drug Administration approval.