Thailand launches locally produced AstraZeneca forceps as a long-awaited mass inoculation campaign begins.
Thai health authorities have launched a long-awaited mass vaccination campaign, with the aim of administering 6 million doses of locally manufactured Oxford-AstraZeneca and imported Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines this month.
The launch of the campaign on Monday came as Thailand battled its third and worst wave of a coronavirus pandemic.
“The government will ensure that everyone is vaccinated,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said in televised comments after visiting an inoculation center in Bangkok.
He said vaccinations will begin on Monday in all provinces and that vaccines would be allocated according to the infection rate in each area.
The government plans to vaccinate 70 percent of Thailand’s population of more than 66 million by the end of the year. To date, 2.8 million people considered most vulnerable, including front-line health and transportation workers, have received a first dose.
But the government has been rejected by opposition politicians who accuse it of complacency and overconfidence in locally manufactured Oxford-AstraZeneca doses.
Thailand had escaped the worst of the pandemic as it hit other countries hard last year, but is now facing the deadliest outbreak. The third wave has accounted for more than 80 percent of all infections so far. Officials reported 2,419 new cases of COVID-19 and 33 deaths on Monday, bringing the total to 179,886 and 1,269 fatalities.
The stadium vaccination center that visited Prayuth can provide 1,500 strokes a day, said Mongkon Wanitphakdeedecha, director of Vichaivej International Hospital, which oversaw the operation. He said they have three days of supply within reach, but did not know if other places had enough for more than a day.
The government has struggled to look for more vaccines as concerns arose about the production capacity of Siam Bioscience, the Thai company that makes the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine locally, after the Philippines said its order had dwindled and delayed.
The Thai government on Friday received 1.8 million locally produced Oxford-AstraZeneca shots and has obtained another 200,000 doses from South Korea, a health ministry source told Reuters news agency.
Thailand will receive an additional 3.24 million doses of AstraZeneca after mid-June, the health ministry said in a statement, but did not specify how much would be earned locally.
Meanwhile, China has supplied 6.5 million doses of Sinovac to Thailand, including 500,000 doses that arrived on Saturday.
Thailand also expects to sign a contract this week for 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.