A Thai health official has apologized for the country’s inability to acquire enough COVID-19 vaccines as rapidly spreading cases and deaths set new records in the country.
Thai National Vaccine Institute Director Nakorn Premsri apologized to the public at a press conference that the organization “failed to procure sufficient quantities of vaccines suitable for the situation “, but added:” we did our best “. The country reported a new record 13,002 cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
“The mutations (of the virus) were something that could not be predicted, which caused a faster spread than last year,” Nakorn said, as the Delta variant contributed to infections in the country. “The vaccine supply effort did not match the current situation.”
The country is the only country in Southeast Asia not to have joined COVAX, the UN-backed global initiative providing equitable access to vaccines, the Associated Press reported. However, Nakorn said Thailand will join the organization next year to receive vaccine donations.
For more Associated Press reporting, see below.
There are concerns that COVID-19 numbers will worsen significantly in Thailand because the government failed to secure a large supply of vaccines before the attack.
The spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus has exacerbated the situation, as the government of Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha seeks to purchase vaccines to supplement the modest amounts it has of Sinovac and Sinopharm of China and AstraZeneca. locally produced.
In addition to not purchasing enough vaccines, Prayuth’s government has come under severe criticism as some studies show Chinese vaccines are less effective against the Delta variant than those produced by Pfizer and Moderna.
COVAX is led by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the World Health Organization. Nakorn said he expects Thailand to be able to receive COVAX vaccines by the first quarter of next year.
The government explained in February that it had not joined COVAX because Thailand is categorized as a middle-income country and would not get free or cheap vaccines from the program. She claimed that she would have to pay high prices up front without knowing what vaccines she would get and when she would get them.
“Buying vaccines directly from manufacturers is an appropriate choice… because it is more flexible,” government spokesman Anucha Buraphachaisri said at the time.
This explanation was later criticized when the government urgently imported Sinovac at a high price even though questions were already raised about its effectiveness.
Thailand has planned to administer 100 million vaccines this year and has set aside 105.5 million doses for several companies. Of these, 61 million doses were to be of AstraZeneca vaccine produced by Siam Bioscience, a company owned by the King of Thailand, 19.5 million doses of Sinovac, 20 million doses of Pfizer and 5 million doses of Johnson & Johnson.
Last week, however, new doubts were cast on the plan when it was revealed that Siam Bioscience is unlikely to be able to deliver its full share until May 2022 due to production issues.
Supakit Sirilak, head of the Department of Medical Sciences, told the same press conference that Thailand is still negotiating with other vaccine makers for additional supplies.
“Our goal of inoculating 100 million doses this year is still possible,” he said.
The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Thailand rose to 439,477 cases on Wednesday.
It has administered around 14.8 million doses of the vaccine, including 10.7 million doses since June. About 11.3 million people, or 16% of the country’s 69 million people, have received at least one dose.