Rural Doctor Society is blaming the Prime Minister as the Head of the CCSA for this week’s debacle while most anger and frustration has been directed towards the Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul. It is not clear yet what the breakdown and failure means but it may well have implications for the government’s economic plans going forward as well as political repercussions. It certainly has destroyed the momentum of the vaccination campaign and severely damaged the public’s confidence which an opinion poll over the weekend already showed was at a low ebb.

The government vaccination programme is in disarray after a hastily convened press conference at Government House on Monday held up the white flag and admitted that vaccine supply to the kingdom has broken down this week. The debacle has already led to widespread frustration and criticism of both the Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul and Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha.

An embarrassing press conference at Government House on Monday where senior officials had to admit that supplies this week would not be forthcoming. The press briefing was ordered by Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha. A war of words broke out also, on Monday, between the Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul (right) and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) over who caused the debacle.

The government’s vaccination campaign, on Monday evening, appeared to have descended into chaos and acrimony after deliveries of vaccines to hospitals on Saturday failed to materialise sparking widespread anger.

The breakdown in vaccine supplies was confirmed at a hastily convened press briefing at Government House reportedly ordered by Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha and fronted by the National Security Council Secretary-general, General Natthapon Nakpanich, the Director-general of the Department of Disease Control, Dr Opas Karnkawinpong and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) Governor, Aswin Kwanmuang.

Vaccine deliveries are behind schedule with no new deliveries for this week, officials admitted 

The media were told that the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) has declared that the kingdom is behind schedule on the delivery of vaccines required to support the programme and that no new vaccine deliveries were scheduled for this week.

The news came after days of rising anxiety beginning on Saturday when hospitals and facilities who had signed up for the programme were informed by public health agencies that no deliveries for the coming week, 14th June to the 20th June, would be made.

This led them to begin the hurried cancellation of vaccine appointments for this week, a situation that has frustrated health practitioners and the public alike.

Country cannot afford a delay or hiatus, government has been warned by industry leaders and economists

The breakdown in the vaccination drive which industry leaders and economists have already warned must deliver at least 10 million administered vaccine doses a month, for the rest of 2021, is certain to have further ramifications.

Public health officials have talked about adjusting goals to the end of July and September but many analysts fear that it may be the beginning of a slide which will inevitably impact the government’s plans for reviving the economy going forward.

It may also have political implications and comes on the same day that the Prime Minister, General Prayut, announced to the Senate that there will now be no early election and he will stay in office until 2023.

Minister of Labour announced a turnaround on Saturday and said the vaccinations for workers would still go ahead on Monday after being postponed

Adding to the confusion was an announcement on Friday last that a plan to administer vaccines to employees covered by Section 33 of the Social Security Act, in factories and workplaces, had been postponed until June 28th.

However, on Saturday, Minister of Labour Suchart Chomklin announced that the planned vaccination drive was going ahead from Monday.

On Sunday, a strong indication that things were not going well came when the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Public Health, Dr Kiattiphum Wongrajit, confirmed the country had not received the promised number of vaccine doses so far for June.

National Security Council Secretary-general says government will receive 6 million vaccines in June

At Monday’s gathering before the press, General Natthapon again confirmed the worst when he said no vaccines would be delivered to authorities this week but indicated that 6 million doses would be delivered for the month.

Dr Opas of the Department of Disease Control could only promise that more vaccine doses would be delivered to agencies involved in the campaign but could not say when.

Momentum of campaign built up last week, after a strong start in the first two days, has now fizzled out 

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) meanwhile confirmed it was cancelling all appointments from Tuesday as the momentum built up last week after the commencement of the vaccine drive on June 7th, now appears to have fizzled out.

888,975 doses were administered in the opening two days of the vaccination drive last week with reports towards the end of the week of already tightening supplies and unequal distribution to meet demand.

Bottlenecks as 28 die after receiving a vaccine amid surging demand with 5% already vaccinated nationwide

An opinion poll published on Sunday and carried out by the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) showed 61.23% of the public lacked confidence in the government’s ability to manage the vaccination programme and that was before today’s stunning admission of failure.

War of words and recrimination break out with Minister of Public Health Anutin in the firing line

The breakdown in vaccination efforts has led to recrimination and a war of words between the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and the Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul.

The minister has also been blamed by at least one medical facility for this week’s failure.

Dr Youwanush Kongdan is the Director of Namarak Hospital, a specialist care facility with just 10 beds in Huai Khwang which had registered as a centre for the vaccine drive from June 7th.

Following last Saturday’s news when her hospital was informed that no vaccines would be delivered this week, she directed her ire towards the minister whom she held primarily responsible for what has happened.

The hospital posted a notice about the cancellation of appointments.

 ‘If you have any questions about this, please contact our call centre or contact the public health minister and ask why this lack of readiness has occurred,’ it read.

Hospital boss contacted by Ministry of Public Health officials over her comments relating to the minister

It is reported the hospital boss was later contacted by public health ministry officials who took issue with her criticism of the minister.

Although she later withdrew it, her frustration with the situation led to several messages criticising the handling of the campaign by the government.

‘I am making an appeal to the government that it should give people the facts and communicate with them in a straightforward manner,’ Dr Youwanush wrote. ‘If you have sufficient vaccines, please say so. If you don’t have enough vaccines, you also should say so and tell people when the vaccines will come.’

She, afterwards, again vented her irritation at the minister and the government. ‘The minister is the commander-in-chief who sets the policy,’ she wrote. ‘Or is it the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration now?’

Minister Anutin takes to Channel 3 TV to blame the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) for the confusion in Bangkok saying his ministry delivered

On Monday, Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul took to Channel 3 TV to attack the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) for a lot of the problems as many of the cancelled appointments were in Bangkok, a key target of the inoculation campaign and a place still at high risk from the Covid-19 disease.

He said 500,000 doses had been promised to the local authority and the same amount had been delivered by his ministry.

‘So it cannot be said that they haven’t received the vaccine from the ministry, and saying so only shows a lack of responsibility,’ he explained to TV viewers. ‘The BMA’s health and medical departments should have tried their very best in managing the given vaccine supplies as they now have full control of everything there.’

Bangkok’s local authority said it was promised 2.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and built a delivery plan accordingly, it got 350,000 doses

This was followed by a statement from the public relations department of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) which refuted the minister’s claims saying while it had received 350,000 and had 150,000 doses for short term needs, it had been notified by the ministry that it was to receive 2.5 million AstraZeneca doses and made plans on this basis.

These doses would have been, in turn, distributed to hospitals and vaccine centres by the Public Health Department of the local authority but that was simply not possible leading to the breakdown and widespread frustration.

Rural Doctor Society blames Prime Minister Prayut Chan ocha in his role as the Head of the CCSA for this week’s debacle and questions role of mini CCSA

Meanwhile, the Rural Doctor Society, known for its anti-government activism, has placed the blame for the current debacle squarely on the shoulders of Prime Minister, Prayut Chan ocha in his role as Head of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

It said the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) had promised 1 million doses to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) in June and described the situation in the capital as one of confusion.

It also noted that on May 3rd last, the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) had established a similar oversight group to coordinate all activities in Bangkok and surrounding provinces.

It pointed out that no cabinet ministers were appointed to this new body, not even the Minister of Public Health, Mr Anutin.

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Further reading:

Taiwan accuses Thailand of prioritising its own access to the AstraZeneca vaccine amid delays

Anutin signs up Pfizer for 20 million doses but warns that Covid-19 may be with us for some time into the future

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