An additional one million doses of the Sinopharm vaccine arrived from China yesterday as the Public Health Ministry gave assurances of a consistent monthly supply of 10 million doses starting this month.
A Thai Airways International (THAI) Boeing 777-300ER aircraft carrying 25.6 tonnes of the Sinopharm vaccine arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport at 10.10am yesterday.
The cargo flight with one million doses in its haul departed Beijing at 6.35am local time.
It was the third flight to bring the Sinopharm vaccine. The first two lots of half a million doses each were brought from China to Bangkok by THAI on 20th June. The first lots were earmarked for distribution to 5,000 organisations, including those privately run.
THAI said yesterday it has prepared wide-bodied planes and ground handling services to support the vaccine transport operations. The vaccine is unloaded from the plane and moved to a large air-conditioned warehouse manned by qualified technicians in logistics and experienced in handling special cargo shipments.
Also yesterday, the Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, said it has stopped taking appointments for Sinopharm vaccine jabs after reaching bookings for 6,400 people, which is all it can take.
Meanwhile, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said at least 10 million doses of vaccine will be secured from this month on. They will be rolled out on a weekly basis to ensure uninterrupted vaccinations or keep jabbing appointments from being postponed.
State-sponsored inoculation covers vaccines from three producers – Sinovac, AstraZeneca and Sinopharm – all certified by the World Health Organization.
The government, in the meantime, has been in talks with other manufacturers to buy vaccines that are suited to other population segments such as young children.
Mr Charnvirakul said experts in Thailand are conducting research into the administration of a third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to better boost immunity against the virus.
If the study concludes in favour of a third dose, the ministry will consider providing it to people, he said.
The minister was speaking during a visit to Chiang Rai to inspect the vaccination situation yesterday.
The province has logged in 1,024 infections in the current third outbreak since the beginning of April.
The province has recorded four clusters of infections across Thoeng, Mae Sai, Wiang Pa Pao and Muang districts.
One of the clusters involved 49 doctors and medical workers at a hospital in Muang district. Among them, 29 have received two doses of vaccine while 12 have not been vaccinated. Of the 29, three developed a lung infection which also affected six of the unvaccinated.
The hospital also studied its COVID-19 patients and found the unvaccinated were far more prone to infection than those who are inoculated, according to Mr Charnvirakul.