Full steam ahead with vaccination drive: Thai government leader heralds a renewed impetus to lead the kingdom out of the morass of the Covid-19 emergency by getting as much of the country’s population vaccinated as quickly as possible. He says that he will relax controls on access to vaccines and allow private entities to import the vaccines into Thailand.

Following his vaccination with the AstraZeneca jab on Tuesday, the Thai PM has committed himself to vaccinate 10 million Thais per month and has signalled a change in policy to allow broader and easier access to the vaccine by the private sector to get the job done.

Buoyed by his own vaccination with the AstraZeneca jab on Tuesday and 17 cabinet ministers, Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha has signalled renewed vigour and intent about vaccinating 10 million Thais per month and also allowing broader access to the vaccine for non-government entities and the private sector to speed up the inoculation process nationwide.

The Prime Minister, Prayut Chan ocha, reported on Tuesday after the weekly cabinet meeting that he and his cabinet colleagues were suffering no adverse side effects after being administered the vaccine by top doctor and virologist, Dr Yong Poovorawan, earlier in the morning.

The PM used the occasion to announce that the kingdom must now aggressively push forward with its vaccination drive.

As part of this, he indicated that he favours allowing hospitals, medical institutions and other bodies both public and private, more of a free rein in importing vaccine doses and making them available to others.

PM underlines the government’s key target of vaccinating 10 million people per month as AstraZeneca jab is given the green light

He emphasised the government’s key target of having 10 million people per month vaccinated so that the country can achieve herd immunity by the end of 2021.

‘It has been verified that there is no bad reaction from the AstraZeneca vaccine,’ he told reporters. ‘Meanwhile, we urge the Public Health Ministry to allow hospitals to import Covid-19 vaccines without waiting for the government’s approval, as we aim to vaccinate 10 million people per month.’

He also indicated that the relaxation measures would soon be approved by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) with further details to be provided on Friday.

Broader access by the private sector has been opposed by many public sector officials on the basis that it may diminish the government’s ability to provide free vaccines to the population on a more equitable basis.

Phuket Tourist Association’s plan scuppered

This led to the cancellation of a plan developed by the Phuket Tourist Association in February to vaccinate the tourist island’s population. The initiative was scuppered after orders were published by the Interior Ministry restricting access to the vaccines to the central government in Bangkok and the Ministry of Public Health.

Phuket’s plan to self vaccinate on hold after Interior Ministry move

The plan developed by the tourism association had, at its heart, the goal of having the local population vaccinated by the end of July with a full reopening of the tourist island planned for October 1st at the latest.

17 cabinet ministers also inoculated on Tuesday

It is understood 17 cabinet ministers and 5 medical advisers working with the government received the AstraZeneca jab on Tuesday along with the Prime Minister.

The vaccine operation for the cabinet went ahead after Thai health authorities gave the green light to the AstraZeneca jab following a detailed examination of reports and data supplied by a range of sources including the World Health Organisation, the European Medicines Agency and AstraZeneca itself as well as individual governments into the performance of the vaccine product and reported side effects, notably in Europe over the last week.

On Tuesday, a joint statement was issued by the Department of Disease Control at the Ministry of Public Health and the AstraZeneca company itself.

34 million AstraZeneca doses administered worldwide

This revealed there were a total of 29 adverse health-related events following the administration of the vaccine in February and early March which were incidents of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).

The statement said, so far, 34 million doses of the vaccine have been administered and recorded worldwide. No evidence had been found to support the view that it caused either severe ill health or death.

It highlighted that follow up investigations into reported fatal incidents in South Korea and European countries such as Denmark have all concluded that the vaccine was not the cause.

South Korean general population death rate is quite a bit higher than AstraZeneca vaccine takers

The report noted that in South Korea, the death rate for the vaccinated population using AstraZeneca is significantly lower than the general population.

Despite the suspensions announced in European countries last weekend, the statement highlighted that both the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in Amsterdam have given the vaccine the all-clear and continue to recommend its use.

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Further reading:

PM leads the way as Thailand aims to return to normal by pushing forward its vaccine drive using AstraZeneca

Top docs say vaccine jabs are safe after Thai PM’s jab is cancelled for the second time in two weeks

Vaccination campaign begins in early morning jab event but hopes for more foreign tourists set back

Economy to rebound as the year progresses driven by exports and a return of mass foreign tourism

Door closing on quick foreign tourism return as economic recovery is delayed to the end of 2022

Phuket’s plan to self vaccinate on hold as Interior Ministry orders private sector out of vaccine deals

Top Thai official says vaccine passports are legally a matter for the WHO under international law

Top virologist Dr Yong defends the use of the Sinovac vaccine to protect frontline medical staff at high risk

Refloat of foreign tourism in the 2nd half of 2021 with vaccines pushed by minister and industry for the sector

Fact – only 6,556 visitors arrived in Thailand last month compared to 3.95 million in December 2019

Desperate foreign tourism business concerns are clinging to straws as they try to survive the crisis

Strict entry criteria to remain as officials await clarity on the medical status of vaccinated people