Govt in talks with pharmas

A man receives a Covid-19 vaccine at The Street Ratchada, one of the vaccination points which offers jabs to those aged 60 years and older, in Bangkok on Monday. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The government is in development and procurement talks with manufacturers for second-generation Covid-19 vaccines that can effectively combat new coronavirus strains, according to government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri.

A new generation of vaccines is said to be essential in controlling the spread of the virus. The spread of the Delta variant is affecting Thailand and many other parts of the world.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Friday approved a plan to purchase 120 million vaccine doses next year, in addition to the 105.5 million to be acquired this year, the spokesman said.

The cabinet on July 6 approved the order of 20 million vaccine doses from Pfizer, and the Department of Disease Control reportedly contacted the company and placed the order.

The Government Pharmaceutical Organisation has brokered talks with Zuellig Pharma to import the Moderna vaccine for sale to people, Mr Anucha said. The firm is said to be the sole importer of the vaccine.

Vaccines currently available for free are manufactured by AstraZeneca, Sinovac and, in the future, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson jabs will join the list, while the public will have to purchase those produced by Sinopharm and Moderna, Mr Anucha said.

The Sinopharm vaccine has been distributed to local administrative organisations and is being sold to the general public, he said. In the meantime, the Moderna vaccine has been pre-ordered by private hospitals, he added.

Mr Anucha said the CCSA is expediting talks with producers on the development and procurement of second-generation vaccines with improved safeguards against new variants.

The centre is also seeking cooperation with other countries in the transfer of technology to produce vaccines, including those using the inactivated virus, viral vector and mRNA methods, he said.

The CCSA also supports research into a prototype vaccine that is effective in lessening the chances of virus mutations, Mr Anucha said.

Meanwhile, a total of 6,288,541 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been administered with 6,180,413 being used as first and 108,128 as second jabs.

As for Sinopharm doses, 412,803 were given with 412,076 as first and 727 as second jabs.

Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation Minister Anek Laothamatas said Thailand has emerged as one of the top Asean countries with a population of over 50 million in terms of percentage of people who have received their first jab.

He said Thailand’s percentage was 16.3%, followed by Indonesia (15.1%), the Philippines (9.1%), Vietnam (4.1%) and Myanmar (3.1%).