Local AstraZeneca jab ready by June

AstraZeneca’s plan to produce its Covid-19 vaccine in Thailand has made significant progress and the first batch of vaccines will be ready for delivery to the government by June.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Siam Bioscience as a manufacturing facility for AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine. The company, together with Siam Bioscience, has been working tirelessly to ensure that the facility is on track to safely deliver supply to support the national vaccination campaign. The collaboration with the Thai government and the FDA has facilitated the swift but careful progress with the manufacturing plant over the past few months, according to a statement issued by AstraZeneca (Thailand) Ltd on Wednesday.

James Teague, Country President, AstraZeneca (Thailand) Ltd, said: “AstraZeneca and our global manufacturing partners, including Siam Bioscience, are committed to maintaining the highest safety and quality standards of our products. Numerous safety tests and quality control measures are carried out at each step. We are working as quickly as possible to supply the vaccine to the Thai government to overcome the ongoing pandemic.”

“Thailand will play a central role to support our neighbours in Southeast Asia to combat Covid-19. Together we can join hands to fight this pandemic,” said Mr Teague.

Shortly after the announcement, the Ministry of Public Health insisted that the first jab would be given to the first group of 16 million people on June 7. The ministry needs to inoculate at least 70% of the population living in zones having a high level of infections in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Chon Buri shortly to help slow down the spread of Covid-19 throughout the country.

Germ warfare: A worker sprays the interior of a bus with a disinfectant in the Praeksa area of Samut Prakan after a 52-year-old female conductor contracted Covid-19. It was reported her family of seven also tested positive for the virus. (Photo by Wichan Charoenkiatpakul)

Sathit Pitutecha, a deputy public health minister, said that the ministry has already set up criteria for the first group of 16 million people who are the ministry’s first priority to administer AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to. Their names have already been registered with the “Mor Prom” app which will be launched on May 1, said Mr Sathit.

Sophon Mekthon, assistant to Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, said the 16 million people include 11.7 million aged over 60 and another 4.3 million suffering from chronic diseases such as severe respiratory disease, heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and stroke. Dr Sophon said the second phase of inoculation will be available for 31 million people aged between 18-59, who can register online in July. The vaccine will be ready for this group from August.