Government In Talks To Buy Vaccines From European Countries

Kiattiphum Wongrajit
Permanent secretary for public health, Kiattiphum Wongrajit.

The government is in talks with European countries to purchase millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccines, a health official said on Thursday, as the country tries to speed up its inoculation rollout to contain a wave of infections.

Authorities in Thailand have been scrambling to shore up vaccine supplies, despite the country being the production hub for AstraZeneca shots in the region.

Last week, the government said it would borrow 150,000 AstraZeneca doses from the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.

“Some countries may have a surplus of AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines and will be able to sell 2-3 million doses each month,” senior health official Kiattiphum Wongrajit told a briefing.

Dr Wongrajit did not specify any European countries involved in the talks. So far, about 9% of the population of more than 66 million have been fully vaccinated as it deals with its deadliest outbreak of the coronavirus.

The majority of the country’s 1.1 million infections and 10,314 fatalities came after April this year due to the highly transmissible Alpha and Delta variants, though infection rates have shown signs of easing.

“New cases have peaked and new infections will gradually decrease,” Dr Wongrajit said.

On Monday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said AstraZeneca would deliver 61 million doses that were previously delayed by the end of this year.

The coronavirus task force will decide on Friday whether to relax lockdown measures, including a proposal to shorten a nighttime curfew and allow dining in at restaurants for those who are vaccinated or have been recently tested, he said.