Registration for the first doses, which was previously scheduled to open within this month, is now postponed back to Feb. 12, just two days before the jabs are supposed to be rolled out (on Valentine’s Day). Officials have yet to figure out how people can sign up for the vaccine either.
“Frontline health workers in high-risk areas will be able to register through the application ‘Mhor Prom’ on Feb. 12. As for the members of the public, we’re still deliberating on the appropriate channels for registration,” Health Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Sophon Mekthon announced on Tuesday.
The delay shows the uncertain protocols of the vaccine campaign that intends to cover at least 60% percent of the country’s population.
“The first vaccine shot in Thailand will be AstraZeneca,” says Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul. “That’s good, because it’s the same brand, same solution as the one that’s being produced in Thailand by Siam Bioscience.”
“It is estimated that six months from now, production will begin, and the vaccine will be registered with the Food and Drug Administration,” National Vaccine Institute Director Nakorn Premsri said in November the signing of agreement between the two pharmaceutical companies.
However, less than two months later, Siam Bioscience and government officials said the production already began as early as December.
A statement released by the company said its facilities have advanced technology capable of making the AstraZeneca doses, but did not confirm whether the production has really started.
The government on Tuesday also announced the vaccine campaign will be divided into three phases. Each person requires two doses, to be administered between 2 – 6 weeks apart for effective results. Those under 18 and pregnant women however, will not be eligible for the vaccines at the moment.
Phase 1 will commence from February to April, prioritising vulnerable populations in five provinces considered as ‘very high risk’ and frontline healthcare workers.
Phase 2 from May to December, will expand to vulnerable groups in the rest of the country.
Phase 3 is for the general public and will not start until January 2022, health officials said.
Conclusively, the three phases would consume up to 61 million doses from AstraZeneca and 2 million from the Chinese Sinovac.
“The combined doses will inoculate 31.5 million people or 63% of the population, which is ‘sufficient enough to develop an immunity herd for Thais,” says minister Anutin.
Source: Khaosod English