The first 2 million doses of government-purchased Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Thailand on Wednesday, with a total of 30 million doses to be obtained by the end of this year, government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisoranakul said.
The shipment was delivered by DHL courier Flight 3L 350, which landed at Suvarnabhumi airport at 4.30am. The vaccine was handed over to Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, in the company of senior ministry officials, at the airport at about 8am.
Pfizer will deliver another 6 million doses in October, followed by more on Wednesday of every week to complete the delivery of 30 million doses by the end of the year, Mr Charnvirakul said.
Mr Charnvirakul said Pfizer would deliver the vaccine to destinations nationwide set by the Disease Control Department. The buying price included door-to-door delivery.
The main target is children aged 12-18 years, about 5 million in total, with 10 million doses of Pfizer vaccine reserved for them. The rest of the vaccines will be for the general public, as decided by the Disease Control Department.
The Pfizer vaccine will also be used in cross-vaccine formulas decided by a sub-committee on immunisation: Sinovac plus AstraZeneca, or AstraZeneca plus Pfizer.
Mr Charnvirakul said the first shipment would go to the Medical Sciences Department and the Food and Drug Administration for a verification process, before being delivered to target areas throughout the country. He expected inoculations with the Pfizer vaccine to start next week.
Also, China has pledged to donate a further 1.5 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine, according to the minister. Beijing has so far donated to Thailand one million doses of vaccine split into two lots of 500,000 doses each. The last batch arrived in early June.
The latest Sinovac donation will add to six million to seven million doses of the vaccine purchased by the government which are due to arrive next month when around 10 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine are also expected to be procured as well.
Meanwhile, Mr Charnvirakul said booster doses were being given to people who have been double-jabbed with the Sinovac vaccine nationwide since March. The doses cover about 3-4 million people.