Thailand urges AstraZeneca to increase vaccine supply

Bangkok, Jul 18 (EFE).- Thai authorities have urged British-Swedish company AstraZeneca to increase the supply of anti-Covid vaccines amid a pandemic surge in the country, which reported 11,397 fresh infections and 101 deaths on Sunday.

AstraZeneca is set to produce 174.6 million doses of the vaccine in Thailand through local company BioScience – owned by Thai King Vajiralongkorn -out of which 61 million vaccines would be used domestically and the rest will be exported.

Recently, BioScience said that it would be able to supply only 5-6 million doses every month to Thailand between July and December, instead of the 10 million monthly supply discussed earlier.

According to letters leaked by local media ISRA news, in late June the government urged AstraZeneca to increase vaccine supply to Thailand, which has so far inoculated 10.7 million people with the first dose, while 3.44 million or 4.9 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated.

“We are expecting to receive more than one-third of the supply from AstraZeneca as mentioned in your letter or at least 10 million doses per month” for local use, Thai Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said in a letter to the company’s vice president, Sjoerd Hubben.

However, in an earlier letter, Hubben had told Anutin that even 5-6 million doses would be double compared to what the company and the Thai government had discussed in September 2020, when Thai officials had estimated a requirement of around three million doses per month.

“At that time, we also explained the opportunity for the Government of Thailand to procure more vaccines at no cost through the COVAX Facility,” said Hubben, referring to the United Nations initiative to supply vaccines to countries facing supply shortages.

In a recent interview, deputy health minister Sathit Pitutecha said that AstraZeneca had asked the government to delay its deadline for supplying the domestic quota of 61-million doses until May 2022.

So far, Thailand has only been using Chinese vaccines Sinovac and Sinopharm apart from the AstraZeneca serum, although negotiations are on to acquire vaccines developed by United States-based Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson. EFE


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