A respiratory disease expert yesterday called on the government to stop buying China’s Sinovac vaccine doses until a new generation of the shot, able to protect against all coronavirus strains, is developed.
The cabinet recently agreed to procure 10.9 million additional Sinovac doses at 6.1 billion baht.
Manoon Leechawengwongs, head of Vichaiyut Hospital’s intensive care unit, said that while the Sinovac vaccine is effective in preventing severe illnesses and deaths, the immunity which the vaccine provides naturally reduces over time.
Therefore, the government should suspend the procurement of the vaccine until a generation effective against all coronavirus strains is developed, he said.
Medical personnel on the frontline of the fight against the pandemic are at a greater risk of being infected, he said.
When they get infected, the virus can spread to their patients and colleagues.
He said infections would cause hospitals to be short-staffed as infected staff would need to quarantine due to infection risks.
Watcharapong Khuwijitsuwan, secretary to the public health minister, yesterday defended the quality of the Sinovac vaccine amid growing criticism, saying the jab is part of the World Health Organization’s Covax initiative, which aims to provide equal access to COVID-19 vaccines.
He said research findings from Malaysia indicate the Sinovac vaccine is as effective as Western mRNA vaccines.
Some have argued that the vaccine, which uses killed viral particles, is not as effective against more infectious variants.
Mr Khuwijitsuwan said findings from the Health Ministry show that the Chinese vaccine is 75% effective against the Delta strain.
He said the country is procuring various vaccines, but added that not every vaccine can be delivered as needed. He said some critics have a political bias.
“It is best to have as many vaccines as possible. Waiting for the one that we like may not help us fight the spread,” he said.