Thailand to mix COVID-19 vaccine shots amid rising cases

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BANGKOK, July 12 (Xinhua) — Thailand decided on Monday to adjust its COVID-19 vaccination policy by mixing Sinovac vaccine with AstraZeneca vaccine, intending to enhance immunity against the virus amid rising new infections.

Instead of two Sinovac shots, the National Communicable Disease Committee has decided to give people the AstraZeneca vaccine as a second shot after their first Sinovac shot to raise their immunity against the Delta variant, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said at a press conference.

Anutin noted that there will be an interval of three to four weeks between the first Sinovac shot and the second AstraZeneca shot.

Medical workers, who have been fully vaccinated, will also receive a third booster dose, using the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine, according to the deputy prime minister.

The Southeast Asian country is battling against a months-long surge in infections, with a fast spreading of the highly contagious Delta variant weighing on the already strained medical systems.

The government also decided to implement home isolation or community isolation programs for those who have been found infected but had slight symptoms or no symptoms, Anutin said.

To address the worsening situation, the country imposed tougher curbs in hard-hit regions, including the capital Bangkok and five nearby provinces. The measures, including a night curfew, a ban on gatherings of more than five people and non-essential travels, as well as closure of shopping malls, took effect from Monday and would last for at least 14 days.

On Monday, Thailand reported 8,656 new infections, marking the first drop of daily tally in a week. The total number of infections rose to 345,027. Cumulative deaths from COVID-19 climbed to 2,791, up by 80 over the past 24 hours.

As of Sunday, the country has administered more than 12.5 million doses of vaccine, with less than 5 percent of its nearly 70 million people fully vaccinated.