Thailand to Start Covid-19 Vaccination Program From Feb. 14

Thailand plans to begin its national Covid-19 vaccine rollout from Feb. 14, starting with healthcare and front-line workers as the Southeast Asian nation battles a new wave of infections, according to the Health Ministry.

As vaccine availability remains limited, target groups with higher infection risks will be administered the shots during the first of a three-phased rollout plan, Permanent Secretary of Public Health Kiattiphum Wongrajit said Monday.

The Southeast Asian nation last week approved AstraZeneca Plc vaccines for emergency use, and is expected to receive 50,000 doses next month from the British-Swedish firm. Thailand is also in line to receive 200,000 doses from Sinovac Biotech Ltd., whose vaccine is expected to get the local drug regulator’s nod in about three weeks.

Siam Bioscience Ltd., a company with links to the Thai monarchy, will also produce AstraZeneca vaccines through technology transfer, and the first batch of the locally produced shots is expected in May. The Thai drugmaker is “manufacturing this vaccine under a ‘no profit, no loss’ policy for the duration of the pandemic,” it said in a statement in response to allegations of being favored in its selection as the local producer.

The Thai government aims to inoculate at least 50% of its population before the end of 2021. The nation is in the middle of a new wave of infections that’s seen total cases more than triple in the past month to almost 13,700.

Other details of the inoculation program are:

  • In the second phase, from May to December, the vaccination program will be expanded to all regions
  • In the final phase, from January 2022 onward, there will be enough vaccines to distribute to population to create herd immunity
  • Vaccines will be provided free of charge and will not be compulsory, said Deputy Premier and Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul
  • The government will launch a platform called ‘Mor Prom’ or ‘Doctor’s Ready’ to facilitate its vaccination program; users can make appointment for the shots and health authorities can monitor any adverse effects

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