Experience in Bahrain where 50% of the population was vaccinated primarily with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine but which suffered a surge in infections at the end of May is an eye-opener for countries around the world. The island in the Persian Gulf has now started to provide third booster shots using the Pfizer vaccine but officials there are pointing out that 90% of those hospitalised were never vaccinated at all.
On Thursday, Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul confirmed that Thailand has signed a contract with Pfizer to supply 20 million doses of the firm’s mRNA vaccine by the end of the year. Although the contract has been agreed and signed, it is still subject to price terms being finalised. Making the announcement, the minister told reporters that the country must now plan for a longer-term relationship with the Covid-19 disease which may require boosters shots. It comes as experts are also pointing to the need to achieve a fully vaccinated population to bring its short term impact to an end.
The Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul, has announced that his ministry has signed a contract with US drugmaker Pfizer to supply Thailand with 20 million doses of its highly effective mRNA vaccine.
Contract negotiations were carried out with the US firm headquartered in New York by the Director-general of the Department of Disease Control, Dr Opas Karnkawinpong.
All Pfizer vaccines ordered will be delivered for use by the end of 2021 under the contract but price still open
The contract specified that all doses will be delivered this year. The price of the jab and further conditions of the contract have still to be ironed out between executives of the pharmaceutical firm and officials at the Ministry of Public Health.
Reports of the order have been in the public domain for a week together with a reported order for 5 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine but Pfizer executives consistently stressed that no contract had yet been signed.
Vaccine still not approved by the Thai Food and Drug Administration, controversy over Pfizer vaccine in Norway in January over deaths among the elderly
The vaccine, although it was one of the first on the market to be approved in the United States, has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration in Thailand.
The Pfizer vaccine was the source of some controversy in January with a spate of deaths among the elderly in the Nordic country leading to an investigation by the Norwegian Medicines Agency and a strong denial from Pfizer in New York which highlighted the vaccine’s exemplary performance in the United States and its approval by key government agencies.
At that time, Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha assured the public that caution would be exercised by Thai government agencies concerning vaccines.
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health later issued a statement advising health authorities to exercise caution with extremely frail members of the older population in that kingdom.
‘For those with the most severe frailty, even relatively mild vaccine side effects can have serious consequences. For those who have a very short remaining life span anyway, the benefit of the vaccine may be marginal or irrelevant,’ the statement said.
Contract for Johnson & Johnson in the works
An announcement in respect of a contract with Johnson & Johnson, the only one dose vaccine, is expected shortly.
It is understood contract documents with that firm are currently being reviewed by the Thai Attorney General’s office.
Minister Anutin told reporters on Thursday he expected that there would be no problem with its finalisation.
Covid virus may not be eliminated for some time in Thailand says Minister of Public Health Anutin
The minister told reporters, on Thursday, that the government was planning for scenarios where the Covid-19 virus will not be fully eliminated in the country.
This comes after Bahrain, the island kingdom in the Persian Gulf, has recently seen a surge in infections despite reaching a vaccination rate of 50%.
The kingdom had used the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine extensively but is now providing widespread third ‘booster’ doses using the Pfizer jab.
‘Today we still have negotiations with all manufacturers to purchase additional vaccines. Because I think that covid is with us for a long time all over the world. And although there are currently no clear academic results for people who have been vaccinated, after nine to twelve months their immunity will fall or not. Therefore, it is considered that people who were vaccinated last February should be revaccinated to stimulate the landscape,’ disclosed Minister Anutin on Thursday.
Officials in Bahrain endorse the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine as effective despite recent surge pointing to non-vaccinated population, 90% of hospitalisations
Officials in Bahrain were quick to underline, however, that the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine and the Sinovac product have both been effective and point out that over 90% of people hospitalised in the latest surge are people who were never vaccinated at all.
This has prompted medical experts to suggest that a fully vaccinated population may be required to bring widespread transmission of the Covid virus to an end while other virology experts suggest that, nonetheless, it may be with us for decades to come albeit not at elevated levels of infection.
Pfizer BionTech jab proved its credentials in trial carried out among health workers in Uruguay recently
A trial recently carried out in Uruguay using the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine showed that even among frontline hospital workers and staff in the South American country, one of the most vulnerable groups, the vaccine was 95% effective at preventing hospitalisation for the virus and 97% effective at preventing death.
Thailand targets an array of vaccine sources as the programme will push on with 10 million doses at least to be administered in June according to officials
Thailand has seen a strong uptake of vaccine doses in the opening days of Phase Two with 888,975 administered in the first two days alone.
Bottlenecks as 28 die after receiving a vaccine amid surging demand with 5% already vaccinated nationwide
Despite widespread supply bottlenecks, emerging clusters and outbreaks, the government and doctors are urging the public to honour all appointments made as the country pushes forward with the national vaccination programme with officials suggesting that at least 10 million doses will be administered in June.
On Thursday, Minster Anutin also told reporters that the kingdom will now receive 5 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine per month while he was also hoping to agree on a weekly delivery with the AstraZeneca production facility in Pathum Thani over the coming days with top executives at the firm.