The country is on track to receive 6 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses this month, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Tuesday.
The six million doses will be delivered in batches throughout the month, he said, adding the first lot is expected to be ready for distribution on 7th June.
His statement came after Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s assurances on Monday that there won’t be a COVID-19 vaccine shortage in Thailand as the jabs ordered by the government will arrive on time.
In the meantime, he said, the government is placing orders for the Pfizer vaccine, with which it plans to inoculate individuals between the ages of 12 and 18.
The Public Health Minister said talks are also in progress with Johnson & Johnson to secure around 5 million does which could be delivered in the fourth quarter of the year.
Once received, the AstraZeneca vaccines will go through a quality inspection before they are distributed. “I’m confident the first lot will be put out on 7th June,” Mr Charnvirakul said.
Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the Department of Medical Sciences, had said earlier that 19 samples of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, including 5 produced locally by Siam Bioscience, had passed quality tests.
Mr Charnvirakul said the Department of Disease Control will decide how many doses will be reserved for jab drives in each province.
While the number of doses in each batch will have to be negotiated between the department and vaccine manufacturers prior to delivery, AstraZeneca must deliver 6 million doses this month, as written in the contract, he said.
The public health minister then assured the public that all vaccines are equal in terms of quality.
When asked about difficulties in booking a vaccination appointment, Mr Charnvirakul conceded that it will be hard to get a slot on one’s preferred date due to high demand and logistical difficulties.
“The vaccines have a limited shelf life,” he said, before adding he has had to turn down requests by a certain party to acquire a large batch of COVID-19 vaccines.
According to the Public Health Ministry, about 70% of the population will get their first shots by the end of September, in line with the CCSA’s plan.