Officials denied claims about Indian vaccine offer

An Indian doctor showing Covaxin the vaccine for Covid19.

Government officials on Monday cast doubt on a news report claiming that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs turned down an opportunity to buy 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from India. 

On January 2, the report published by news website Thai Enquirer said India offered to sell 2 million doses of AstraZeneca-licensed vaccine to Thailand, although the proposal was “rejected outright” by foreign minister Don Pramudwinai.

The story was challenged by both the government and the expert in charge of the national vaccine program. The government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said on Monday “the news is not true.”

Although Traisuree confirmed that India did offer to sell its locally manufactured vaccine to Thailand, the doses appear to have been developed by Indian pharmaceutical firm Bharat Biotech, and not AstraZeneca.

The foreign ministry said last week that it did not reject the offer either. The offer is still under consideration and was never rejected out of hand.

Thai Enquirer cited unnamed sources within the Indian government as the basis for its story. The article did not mention the cost of the 2 million doses of vaccine offered by India.

Covaxin, the vaccine developed locally by Bharat Biotech, is said to be more controversial. Some experts have warned that the vaccine needs more studies.

Although Bharat Biotech defended its process, and India’s drug regulator was quoted as saying that Covaxin is “safe and provides a robust immune response.”