After much anticipation and delay, Thai authorities have announced they are planning to roll out AstraZeneca jabs on Thursday with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha the first recipient.
Yesterday, Anutin Charnvirakul, Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister told the media that the Department of Medical Sciences will soon complete the mandatory quality check on 117,000 doses sent to Thailand late last month.
“The rollout of AstraZeneca vaccines in Thailand will take place on 11th March at the earliest with the PM to be the first to receive the vaccine,” Mr Charnvirakul said.
Initially, the rollout was set for 28th February, but it was pushed back pending the mandatory quality check on the shipment of vaccines.
Mr Charnvirakul said senior cabinet members, including Khunying Kalaya Sophonpanich, the acting education minister, and Don Pramudwinai, foreign affairs minister, wanted to obtain COVID-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca.
Senior citizens aged 60 and over would be prioritised to receive the jabs, while younger people would be given China’s Sinovac vaccine, according to the authorities.
Mr Charnvirakul said Beijing is considering making Thailand a regional vaccination centre for Chinese citizens living in ASEAN.
He said the country has asked his ministry to help provide vaccines to 200,000 Chinese citizens living in the kingdom. Beijing will provide the vaccines for free, Mr Charnvirakul added.
In another development, officials have met to discuss the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 passport proposal.
They focused on the criteria needed to obtain a vaccine passport, according to Dr Apisamai Srirangson, assistant spokeswoman to the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration.
“The Public Health Ministry insisted that the use of the vaccine passports must wait for standards to be set by the WHO,” she said.
She said the ministry would only issue a certificate to those who have received two jabs. Those certificates, she said, are approved by the WHO.
An immunised person could use the certificate to acquire a vaccine passport, she said.