The Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has ordered the preparation of regulations to allow for the swift approval of a consignment of 2 million vaccine doses that are expected to arrive in Thailand in February and be used to inoculate front line medical staff and the most vulnerable. This initial batch is reported to be costing the kingdom ฿558 per dose or $19 which is nearly 400% the rate quoted at the end of November when the government signed a contract with UK Swedish firm AstraZeneca for 26 million doses and a long term licence to manufacture the Oxford University developed vaccine in Thailand.

The Thai government is moving to speed up the country’s vaccination programme as the Covid-19 crisis in the country spreads. The emergence of Thailand’s second wave, unfortunately, coincides with the most devastating phase of the Covid 19 outbreak in western countries with record numbers of new infections and deaths from the worldwide pandemic.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul says two million vaccine doses will arrive in February to inoculate front line medical staff. He indicated that this will require new regulations for the Food and Drug Administration and that the cabinet will have to approve ฿1.117 billion for the vaccine jabs, which works out at ฿558 or $19 each.

As Thailand’s second wave of the virus begins to spread with increasing alarm at the effects of the four day holiday period on the proliferation of the disease, there appears to be a change of emphasis and new impetus from the government in relation to the rollout of a vaccine nationwide.

On Friday, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration warned the Thai public that even in the best-case scenario, the current wave rolling over the kingdom with three more deaths announced in the last two days and nearly 500 new cases, would not recede until mid-February at the earliest.

Tourism Minister suggested in recent weeks that Thailand would be cautious about inoculation

As recently as last week, the Minister of Tourism and a Bhumjaithai Party cabinet colleague of the Minister for Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul, suggested that the government would consciously delay a vaccine rollout until later this year out of fear of what may happen with widespread vaccination programmes in western countries. 

‘The Public Health Ministry is quite serious about the decision to wait and see the side effects thoroughly. We don’t have to be a Covid vaccine guinea pig,’ said Minister Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn.

Prime Minister has ordered the Public Health Ministry to expand its search for more vaccine doses

However, on Thursday, New Year’s Eve, a spokesman for the Prime Minister, Anucha Burapachaisri, had a different story. He told the press that the PM had ordered the Minister of Public Health, Mr Anutin, to expand negotiations with pharmaceutical firms across the world to secure more vaccine doses for the Thai public.

At the end of November, Thailand’s government signed a formal deal with Swedish UK group AstraZeneca to provide 26 million doses of the vaccine developed in association with Oxford University to the country’s health service in the first 6 months of this year. 

Thailand’s plans to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine at a plant in Pathum Thani later this year

This deal is also linked with a partnership arrangement where Thai firm Siam BioScience will manufacture the vaccine under licence at a plant in Pathum Thani which is expected to provide 15 million doses per month later in the year, much of which is expected to be exported.

New Year’s announcement sees kingdom paying $19 per dose from an unknown supplier to vaccinate front line medical staff as the 2nd wave grows

However, on Friday, the Minister of Public Health, Mr Anutin, announced that the first batches of vaccines will arrive in Thailand in February and will be quickly administered to front line medical staff as a priority.

This batch amounts to 2 million doses and comes at a hefty price reported to be $19 per dose or ฿558 approximately.

It is not known who the supplier of this vaccine is or which pharmaceutical firm has developed it. 

Thailand now finds itself in the market for more vaccine doses as leading western countries are quickly snapping them up as they come to market.

It was reported, last week, that France has purchased enough vaccine doses to inoculate 100 million people with a population of just 67 million.

Push is on to ramp up production of vaccines worldwide as incoming US president threatens the use of the Defence Act to secure doses for America

Pfizer, the first to produce an approved vaccine, has announced over the last 24 hours that it is to boost production of its vaccine while incoming US president, Joe Biden, has said that he may use the US Defence Act to expedite the production and sequestration of vaccines for the US population as deaths in the United States and across the western world rise inexorably. 

Outgoing President Donald Trump used this power, granted to a US President in wartime, to order the priority manufacture of ventilators in 2020. The move produced remarkable results.

Deaths from the disease in the USA on the 31st December were over 3,460 with over 230,000 infections while on New Year’s Eve, the UK reported 980 deaths with over 50,000 infections. New Year’s Day saw over 600 deaths.

Government prepares regulations to give to the Food and Drug Administration for the new vaccine batch of unknown origin that will be first to arrive in Thailand

The deal signed in November with AstraZeneca priced the initial 26 million doses at $5 per dose or ฿150 each.

Minister Anutin said on Friday that the next step will be for Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration to prepare for the approval of the first vaccine batch. He said this would require the preparation of regulations. 

In the meantime, he would be seeking cabinet approval for the outlay of ฿1.117 billion to pay for the first step in Thailand’s vaccination process.

On Thursday, the Prime Minister, Pryaut chan ocha was quoted by the same government spokesman as saying that it was a key government priority for at least 50% of the national population to be vaccinated in the course of this year.

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Further reading:

Confirmed: Covid-19 second wave is here with the new outbreak seen as more serious than the first one

Covid-19 situation worsens as local infections now spread to 38 provinces with more red zones on the map

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Prime Minister warns employers and bent officials over illegal migrant workers but calls for calm for now

Samut Sakhon flare-up spreads to other provinces but will be brought under control say top officials

Covid 19 outbreak in Samut Sakhon sees province placed under lockdown measures by local officials

Luxury party hotel in Myanmar’s Shan State is the epicentre of Thailand’s current Covid 19 outbreak

Minister Anutin attacks infected Thai women whose actions set back plans to reopen the kingdom’s borders

Myanmar border on alert after shock local Covid positive test on Friday is linked to local smuggling trade

Thai army strengthens security along the Burmese border to defend against super infectious strain of Covid 19

Man visiting from Laos had TB, not Covid 19 as Udon Thani governor confirms no trace of Covid 19 virus

Top doc wants a halt to all foreigners entering Thailand again warning of a 2nd virus breakout due to the influx

Broken-hearted Swede fears history will repeat itself as shock parting left him stranded in Laos for 4 months

92% of suicides due to the virus are among the self-employed according to expert research group in academia

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Visa amnesty agreed as emergency decree is linked to the controlled entry of Thais and Foreigners

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Mystery Egyptian military flight revealed as exposing Thailand to the Covid 19 virus in Rayong

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IATA calls on countries like Thailand to think again over quarantine schemes and travel curbs costing jobs

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Thai public says No to foreign tourism and also predicts 1 to 2 years for travel to return to normal

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Thailand plans to prioritise Asian countries in its search for safe Covid 19 ‘tourism bubble’ partners

Australian envoy says his embassy and others continue to work on helping stranded foreigners get home

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Thai security chief suggests a full reopening of the kingdom to international flights from July 1st

New normal for foreigners seeking access to Thailand even after flights resume if virus persists as a factor

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Australian man’s heartbreak cut off from his Thai wife – begs to be included on repatriation flights

Thailand extends ban on inbound flights until July 1st at the earliest – blow to foreigners and tourism

Spouses of Thai wives down under denied access to limited repatriation flights from Australia this week

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