After the first batch of vaccines failed to arrive as expected on Valentine’s Day, Thailand’s health minister yesterday wasn’t going to miss his shot at reassuring the public they’re still on the way.
Several pallets of boxes of Chinese Sinovac vaccines wrapped in plastic storages besides signs reading “Thailand” and “Docking Area” were shared by Anutin Charnvirakul on his social media.
“Sinovac’s vaccine manufacturer sent this picture to me to confirm that the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines for Thailand is arriving in Suvarnabhumi Airport this February 24,” Anutin wrote on Sunday. “I informed my MPs that they will be delivered until they total 2,000,000 doses, as ordered by The Government Pharmaceutical Organization, by the end of April.”
The first batch of 200,000 doses – enough for 100,000 inoculations – from Beijing will land Wednesday morning at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.
It will be greeted by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha, who just survive a no-confidence debate largely focused on his government’s mishandling of the vaccine rollout. He’ll preside over a “COVID-19 Vaccines Return Smiles to Thailand” photo op scheduled to take place there in the morning.
Eager to show it was making progress weeks after vaccinations began in most neighboring countries, Thailand had announced with great fanfare last month that it had purchased a supply of AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine from Italy that was to arrive earlier this month. It didn’t.
Apart from the Sinovac doses, Thailand has awarded sole manufacturing authority to a royally owned firm to produce 61 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Siam Bioscience most recently said that they would be ready in June.
Criticism of the government’s arrangement has been met with accusations of royal defamation, leading to opposition figure Thanathorn Juangroonruangkit being charged with insulting the king for raising questions about the deal.
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