A further 1 million vaccine doses from the United States, as well as 1.1 million antigen test kits and ventilators donated by Switzerland, announced in the last 48 hours come as the kingdom finds itself fighting a rising wave that has left the public health service in Bangkok and adjacent provinces unable to cope with demand as the deadly Delta wave takes its toll.

Countries around the world are rallying to assist Thailand as it struggles to cope with the current COVID-19 outbreak which has left the country’s economy devastated and its public health system in the capital under immense pressure with increasing numbers dying at home. The United States is to send one million more vaccine doses to the kingdom in addition to the 1.5 million Pfizer mRNA vaccines due to arrive on Friday, confirmed US Thai Senator Tammy Duckworth on Tuesday. Early on Thursday, the Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul and the Swiss Ambassador Helene Budliger welcomed a consignment including 1.1 million antigen test kits and 102 ventilators at Suvarnabhumi Airport. 

Medical aid and vaccines are being sent to Thailand by friendly western nations. Thai born US Senator Tammy Duckworth announced, on Tuesday, that the United States is to send a further 1 million American vaccines to assist its long-standing ally in Southeast Asia. This will be in addition to 1.5 million Pfizer mRNA vaccines due to be flown in on Friday. Early on Tuesday morning, Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul and key officials met up with Switzerland’s Ambassador to the kingdom, Helene Budliger, at Suvarnabhumi Airport when 1.1 million antigen test kits and 102 ventilators were flown in by Swiss Air. It followed a donation by the Swiss government to help Thailand’s battle against this latest and more deadly virus wave.

Thai born US senator Tammy Duckworth has announced that the United States is to send an additional 1 million vaccine doses to its Southeast Asian ally as part of American efforts to assist countries in need around the world.

The extra jabs will be in addition to the 1.5 million Pfizer mRNA vaccine doses which are scheduled to arrive in Bangkok on Friday and which were earlier confirmed by the US Embassy in Bangkok as part of President Joe Biden’s pledge to distribute 500 million vaccine doses worldwide to foreign governments ‘with no strings attached’.

Record day of infections and deaths in Thailand with over 90% being among the elderly, those with an underlying condition or pregnant women

The Thai government has announced that a proportion of the 1.5 million Pfizer doses will be used to give third booster shots to front line medical workers who are facing the country’s highest level of infection from the disease so far.

Thailand, on Thursday, recorded another day of record COVID-19 cases with 17,669 cases detected and also a new high in the daily tally of deaths from the disease at 165.

A situation update from the Ministry of Public Health, up to Monday last, shows that 80% of the deaths recorded from the disease since April 1st relate to elderly people, those with underlying health conditions including obesity and pregnant women who are a key vulnerable group.

Thai born US senator tells East-West Center that the US will send a further 1 million vaccines to Thailand as a long-standing ally in Southeast Asia 

On Tuesday, Senator Duckworth was speaking at a forum organised by the East-West Center, an institution based in Honolulu, Hawaii and established by the US Congress in 1960 to foster cultural exchange and mutual understanding between America and nations within the Pacific.

‘We will be sending no less than 1.5 million doses of the Covid vaccine. In fact, the goal is 2.5 million, but the first shipment is 1.5,’ said the junior senator from Illinois.

Senator Duckworth was born in Bangkok in 1968

Senator Duckworth, who was born in Bangkok in 1968, and is a US armed forces veteran like her father who was stationed in the kingdom during the Vietnam War, said the US will be sending Thailand a further 1 million doses although it is not clear when these will arrive or what type of vaccine.

US Senator is a woman who speaks Thai – Tammy Duckworth visits Thailand to foster American ties
Senator Duckworth’s family has a long and proud association with the US military going back to 1775

Senator Duckworth said the extra batch of 1 million doses were being sent to Thailand as the country is a long-standing ally and friend of the United States in Asia.

UK to send 415,000 AstraZeneca doses to Thailand

On Thursday, the new UK ambassador to Thailand, Mark Gooding, in a Twitter announcement from the UK Embassy in Bangkok, highlighted that the British Foreign Office in London has also committed to sending 415,000 AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Thailand in August as part of the UK government’s efforts to assist foreign countries with a pledge to distribute 9 million doses worldwide.

Valuable cargo from Switzerland flew into Suvarnabhumi Airport on Thursday morning with 1.1 million antigen test kits and 102 ventilators

Early on Thursday morning, both the Swiss Ambassador to Thailand, Her Excellency, Helene Budliger and the Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul, were at Suvarnabhumi Airport to welcome a flight containing essential health equipment and supplies to assist hospitals particularly in Bangkok as the virus wave, which escalated in the capital in mid-June, is still threatening to rise higher.

Experts are suggesting that a daily case rate of up to 30,000 may be possible between now and the end of August when things are expected to peak.

The delivery from Switzerland on Thursday included 1.1 million badly needed antigen test kits and 102 ventilators for use in ICU wards.

Minister Anutin thanked the Swiss government

Minister Anutin expressed his sincere thanks to the Swiss government for the donation and assistance to Thailand at this time.

He said the health equipment would play an important role in the battle against the virus now being joined.

Government spokeswoman, Trisulee Traisanakul, later told the media that Thai authorities were in the process of purchasing a further 8.5 million antigen test kits for nationwide distribution.

She also noted that Japan had donated 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Thailand earlier in July.

More people are beginning to die at home in Bangkok as those infected with established provincial links are ferried out of the capital if the cases are not acute

A public health official confirmed on Thursday that hospitals and even temporary facilities are running out of beds in the capital with at least 1,200 people currently in urgent need of places while thousands more, with provincial links, are being ferried out of the capital on a voluntary basis for non-acute cases while asymptomatic Bangkokonians are being encouraged to treat themselves at home in isolation where appropriate.

It is reported that 6,000 people, alone, have made contact with dedicated hotline numbers in Bangkok and surrounding provinces over the last few days looking for a hospital bed.

More people, also, have started to die at home.

Of the 165 deaths announced on Thursday, 21 had succumbed where they live.

Somsak Akksilp, the Department of Medical Sciences boss, bluntly explained the facts to a press conference.

‘We don’t know where to put the sick people anymore, the ER units in many hospitals have to be temporarily closed because they no longer have bed spaces,’ he declared.

Economic prospects for Thailand grow bleaker

The news comes as the Finance Ministry downgraded its projected GDP growth outlook for the Thai economy this year to just 1.3% with predictions, now, of only 300,000 foreign tourists, a 99% drop on figures for 2019 and even a 96% drop on 2020 arrivals.

It is a staggering outcome and there are real fears of the problem extending into 2022.

This tells us that the foreign tourism industry cannot function in the current climate despite the government’s reopening efforts.

The latest forecast is also based on a more generous estimate of the upswing in exports which has been revised upward from 11% to 16%, something that is not assured.

‘No reason for optimism’ as Thailand faces the very real prospect of a second year of GDP contraction

With economic data suggesting a deep downward swing in investment and both consumer and business confidence from May 2021 in the domestic economy, severe restrictions in provinces under lockdown and dwindling foreign tourism prospects, it is now looking increasingly like a second year of GDP contraction following last year’s record-setting 6.1% economic decline.

All this followed what was also a very disappointing performance in 2019 as Thailand’s economic decline had set in, even before the pandemic.

‘There’s now increasing chatter that the Thai economy will contract again this year,’ explained Maria Lapiz on Thursday. Ms Lapiz is the Managing Director of Maybank Kim Eng Securities in Thailand, an investment service linked with the Maybank group with operations in Asia and eleven markets. ‘There’s no reason for optimism,’ she concluded.

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