Pick me! Health Minister Anutin wants 1st dose of experimental vaccine

The beleaguered health minister who went from would-be public health hero to zero through a series of unforced errors is ready for his redemption arc: as human guinea pig.

As soon as clinical trials of a coronavirus vaccine being developed in Thailand are ready, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul will be the first human to test it – at least according to a member of his party also serving in the cabinet. 

Transpo Minister Saksiam Chidchob, who attended today’s COVID-19 task force meeting, told reporters that Anutin has volunteered to be the first in line after the monkeys and any other animals used as experiments for the potential vaccine now under development at Chulalongkorn University’s Centre of Excellence in Vaccine Research and Development.

Saksiam said it’s already being tested on monkeys at the National Primate Research Center in Saraburi province. Those results will be revealed Monday.

Anutin rose to his present position after last year’s election as head of the Bhumjaitai Party, a key member of the ruling coalition. The party rose to play an outsized role in domestic politics as kingmaker under the leadership of Saksiam’s older brother, Newin Chidchob. 

But after being seen as a promising reformer due to his championing of medical cannabis and other policies, Anutin’s rep took a beating as he racked up controversies including a number of offensive comments.

Last month he was busted for flouting his own department’s rules by having hosted a seaside lunch party. In February he was forced to apologize after saying “fucking farangs” should be kicked out of the kingdom for not wearing masks and blaming health care workers for becoming infected in late March. 

He was blamed for the administration’s early stumbles in responding to the pandemic and deactivated his Facebook account after announcing major policies that didn’t come to pass.

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