Bangkok, Jul 21 (EFE).- Thailand has signed up for the United Nations Covax vaccine scheme to stock up on additional jabs as the country faces supply shortages during its worst wave of coronavirus infections and deaths since the pandemic began.
Amid a sluggish vaccine rollout and a health system close to breaking point, authorities on Wednesday announced a new record number of daily infections, 13,002, as well as 108 fatalities, bringing the cumulative figures to 439,477 cases and 3,610 deaths, the majority since April.
“Thailand is still in the process of joining Covax in coordination with Gavi (the Global Vaccine Alliance)…as well as other vaccine manufacturers to procure and supply enough vaccines for next year,” Thailand’s National Vaccine Institute director Nakhon Premsri told a press conference.
“There are many constraints, but I have to apologize to the Thai people, on behalf of the National Vaccine Institute. Although we have done our best, the number of vaccines is still insufficient,” Premsi acknowledged.
The Covax distribution program was created by the World Health Organization, together with the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (Gavi) and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi), to facilitate access of covid-19 vaccines to countries in difficulty.
Thailand had been reluctant to join the Covax program, unlike other countries in the region such as Indonesia and Malaysia, opting instead to source vaccines from China’s Sinovac and the Anglo-Swedish company AstraZeneca.
But Thai authorities have acknowledged that the supply from AstraZeneca, which plans to deliver 61 million doses manufactured in Thailand, is suffering delays.
So far, 11.29 million people, just 15% of the population, have been vaccinated against Covid-19, while 3.51 million (4.77%) have received both jabs.
Authorities in Bangkok, where a night curfew and restrictions on economic and social activities are already in place, have announced further measures such as the closure of stadiums, convention centers, museums and parks. EFE