PM Prayut: Thailand to order 35 million more COVID-19 vaccine doses

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BANGKOK (NNT) – In response to comments on the government’s handling of the COVID-19 vaccine orders, relevant agencies insist that the government has not barred private companies from importing vaccines.

The Prime Minister posted a message on his Facebook page, saying a working group has been set up to consider the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines. The working group, led by Dr. Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, comprises physicians of the Ministry of Public Health, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Private Hospital Association Thailand.

Following discussions with different sides, they agreed that Thailand will order 35 million vaccine doses from two to three other manufacturers, in addition to some 65 million doses, which are already on order. Of the 35 million doses, private firms, led by the Thai Chamber of Commerce (TCC), will help the government by administering 10 million to 15 million doses to employees, to ease the government’s burden. Related units will undertake further procedures according to the law. They are to develop a vaccine distribution plan and administer all doses before the end of December.

These efforts have proven that the government is not monopolizing vaccine imports. According to reports by relevant agencies, vaccine demand is outpacing vaccine supply around the world. Therefore, the market is in the hands of manufacturers and traders, not consumers. The Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation reported today that various countries have placed orders for up to 9.6 billion doses, while 658 million doses have been administered. This shows that vaccine manufacturers have to produce much more vaccine to meet the high demand.

Although the government is importing COVID-19 vaccine doses from Sinovac and AstraZeneca, it is looking to import vaccines from other companies to meet the country’s needs, but there are limits on vaccine production. Currently, vaccines developed by all manufacturers are for emergency cases.

If recipients suffer a adverse reaction, the government has to take responsibility, not the manufacturers. In almost all countries, their governments are ordering and importing vaccines, and there is no commercial market in any country at this time. The government also has to take instigate precautions once private companies place orders, to prevent people from receiving counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines.

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