Govt receives 200k Covovax dose lift

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, centre, poses with Indian Ambassador to Thailand Suchitra Durai, second right, and other officials after receiving 200,000 Covovax doses donated by the Indian embassy. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)

The Ministry of Public Health will distribute 200,000 coronavirus protein-based vaccine doses donated by India and its partners to state-owned hospitals across Thailand with the target of inoculating those unvaccinated people.

Officials at the ministry headquarters on Thursday received 200,000 Covovax doses donated by the Indian embassy under an initiative by the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, a group of countries that comprise India, Japan, the United States and Australia.

The doses, manufactured in India by Covovax, use the same formula as the Novavax vaccine. It is regarded as India’s first Covid-19 protein subunit vaccine.

Ambassadors of the Quad countries were present during a handover ceremony for the doses.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul during his speech said the government appreciates the help.

The vaccine is expected to appeal to those who are still hesitant about which type to get, he said.

Mr Anutin said the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the vaccine for emergency use for people over 18 years old, adding that Covovax is looking to get the vaccine approved for those 12 years or older.

The shipment of 200,000 doses arrived in Thailand on Monday and is being inspected by the Department of Medical Sciences. The doses are set to expire in September.

Sophon Iamsirithavorn, deputy director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said the department plans to distribute the donated doses to major state-owned hospitals and collect data on the vaccine’s efficiency against Covid-19.

The vaccine is currently prepared for unvaccinated people only, he said.

Suchitra Durai, Indian ambassador to Thailand, said the shipment was part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s commitment to donate 500,000 Covid-19 doses to countries in the Indo-Pacific region, under a Quad vaccine partnership.

She said the partnership was announced by Quad leaders during their first summit on March 12 last year.

The goal is to ensure the global availability of safe and effective vaccines by expanding the manufacturing of them and also assisting Indo-Pacific countries.

The Quad said earlier that it aims to provide 1 billion vaccine doses to the region under the initiative.

Earlier this month, the group provided 325,000 doses to Cambodia.