Bangkok, Feb 28 (efe-epa).- Thailand began its Covid-19 vaccine rollout on Sunday with government ministers and health workers receiving doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech.
Deputy prime minister and health minister Anutin Charnvirakul, 54, was the first in the country to receive a vaccine, ahead of other health, culture and education officials as well as medical personnel, at Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute on the outskirts of Bangkok.
“I hope that the vaccination will result in people being safe from the spread of Covid-19 and it allows Thailand to return to normalcy as soon as possible,” Anutin told reporters.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, who presided over proceedings Sunday, was expected to be the first to get a shot, one of the 117,600 AstraZeneca doses that arrived in Thailand on Wednesday.
However, the company said in a statement that due to the need for the product to pass all 60 quality control steps, it will not be ready for distribution until the second week of march.
At 66 years old, Prayut falls outside the recommended age limit of 19-59 years for Sinovac’s Coronavac vaccine.
Earlier this week, 200,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine arrived on Thai soil. They have been distributed to around a dozen provinces classified as “high risk,” while another 1.8 million doses from the Chinese pharmaceutical company will arrive over March and April.
Starting in June, the country hopes to be able to administer 10 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine per month, produced by a local laboratory linked to the Thai monarchy.
Since the start of the pandemic, Thailand has recorded 25,951 cases of Covid-19 in the country, including 83 deaths. EFE-EPA