Saw that leaked file on Pfizer vaccines? Health Minister wants you to ‘forget about it’

A file photo of Thailand’s health minister Anutin Charnvirakul giving an interview to reporters on Monday. Photo: Anutin Charnvirakul / Facebook
A file photo of Thailand’s health minister Anutin Charnvirakul giving an interview to reporters on Monday. Photo: Anutin Charnvirakul / Facebook

Sunday’s leaked documents suggesting that Pfizer vaccines had always been part of the government’s program turned out to be authentic, the health minister said today, but he thinks that Thais shouldn’t read too much into it. 

The leaked document sparked public outrage since yesterday, especially since the Thai government was already being slammed for their monopolized focus on Chinese-made Sinovac, also known as CoronaVac. The files contained meeting minutes of a discussion held June 30 that included an unidentified health official saying that giving Pfizer vaccines to medical professionals would imply that Sinovac’s was of poorer quality, making it “difficult for us to find a reasonable excuse” to encourage people to take the latter.

“It was only someone’s opinion recorded,” Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul reacted to the outrage this morning. “We wouldn’t suddenly translate anyone’s opinion into practice because there are many more steps in the process.”

“Don’t take it seriously. You can forget about it,” Anutin told reporters.

The leaked document indicated that it had come from an emergency COVID-19 meeting held at the Disease Control Department

The unidentified official was recorded as saying: “If we were to give Pfizer vaccines to medical professionals, it will imply that the quality of the Sinovac vaccine given to them earlier is low, and it will be difficult for us to find a reasonable excuse.”

#VaccinatePfizerinMedics has been a trending hashtag on Twitter in Thailand since this morning with netizens demanding the highly-efficient Pfizer vaccine to be used to inoculate medical workers as a third booster dose against COVID-19. 

For weeks, people have been calling on the government to get ahold of the messenger RNA (mRNA)-based vaccines – Pfizer and Moderna – and use it against the infectious pathogens.

To date, only two vaccines have been used to inoculate Thai populations : Sinovac and AstraZeneca. Most medical workers in Thailand have received two doses of Sinovac vaccines. Millions more doses of Sinovac are expected to arrive this year.

Last week, 110 bottles of Sinovac were found to have contained a lump of gel, rendering them defective.

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