BANGKOK — Thailand will receive its first shipment of coronavirus vaccine from China by the end of next month, PM Prayut Chan-o-cha said as the country logged a new virus death and the highest-ever spike in case number on Monday.
The country reported record-breaking 745 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, though most of the patients were reportedly found during active case-finding operations in Samut Sakhon. PM Prayut also told reporters that the government has secured 2 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech.
Public health workers like doctors and nurses will be prioritized in the first round of vaccination, Prayut said, while the general public will have to wait until May for vaccines developed by British pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
“I have laid out plans for vaccine procurement,” Prayut said at Government House on Monday morning. “I believe they will arrive within one to two months.”
Supakit Sirilak, chief of the Medical Sciences Department, said the first 200,000 doses of Sinovac Biotech’s vaccines will be shipped to Thailand by the end of February. The remaining 800,000 shots will be delivered in March, and the rest, or 1 million, in April.
“There’s only a few vaccines available out there,” Supakit said “We will not buy vaccines from substandard producers or vaccines that have not passed Phase 3 trial.”
“Private firms who wish to import the vaccines to Thailand must have them registered with the Food and Drug Administration,” he went on. “This is to ensure that Thais will have quick and safe access to vaccines.”
The vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech was just approved for general public use by the Chinese government on the New Year’s Eve. The state-owned company said the vaccine is 79.34 percent effective, citing preliminary results from Phase 3 clinical trials – compared to AstraZeneca’s reported efficacy of 70 percent.
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