Surprise! Health officials said today that a delayed batch of AstraZeneca vaccines will arrive tomorrow along with the first shipment of China’s CoronaVac – and the prime minister has chosen which one to take when he becomes the first to be inoculated.
Public Health Minister Anutin Chanvirakul said 117,000 doses of the Oxford-developed vaccine will arrive from Italy weeks after they had been expected along with the 200,000 doses from Beijing. PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha, 66, will take the AstraZeneca shot because of new concerns the Chinese vaccine is unsuitable for those over 60.
Anutin said he had kept the Italian load a secret due to the political drama surrounding the government’s procurement process, which had made the British-Swedish firm hesitant to supply Thailand. Anutin said they would have arrived last month if people hadn’t made so much noise, laying blame on the public for complaining about how manufacturing was awarded to a firm aligned with the palace.
Anutin’s comments seemed to confirm reports last month that AstraZeneca had gotten cold feet after the Thai government began prosecuting critics of their deal including opposition figure Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit for allegedly insulting the king.
The health minister said Prayuth would have to wait six weeks for the second job after he gets the first. CoronaVac only requires a two-week wait between shots.
Anutin, who had been aiming to win some spotlight love as the first to be inoculated, said he may be the second – if people want him to, that is.