A communicable diseases expert announced yesterday that the first 50,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine expected to arrive in Thailand early next month will be administered to frontline healthcare workers in Samut Sakhon, Mae Sot district of Tak and in the southern border provinces.
Dr Tawee Chotpitayasunondh, president of the Paediatric Infectious Disease Society of Thailand and an expert in the national communicable disease committee, said the first 50,000 doses developed by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca Plc will be given first to the healthcare workers at the forefront of the fight to contain COVID-19 in at-risk areas of the country.
According to Dr Chotpitayasunondh, the healthcare workers to receive the jabs are those in Samut Sakhon where a recent cluster of infections was detected, the border district of Mae Sot in Tak and the southern border provinces.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the emergency use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
FDA secretary-general Paisarn Dunkum said the FDA approved the registration of the vaccine, produced in Italy by AstraZeneca Plc, on Wednesday after the firm submitted over 9,000 pages of documents.
In response to criticism over the COVID-19 vaccine procurement deal, Dr Chotpitayasunondh insisted the deal was reached on scientific grounds, not for political reasons as suggested by critics.
Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit has alleged that three deals involving COVID-19 vaccine procurement were not negotiated independently of each other.
The vaccine deals he mentioned were the first between AstraZeneca and Siam Bioscience, the second between AstraZeneca and the government, and the third between the government and Siam Bioscience.
Dr Surachok Tangwiwat, deputy secretary-general of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), insisted the registration of COVID-19 vaccines in Thailand was not being tactically delayed as alleged by some critics.
The FDA is responsible for ensuring the safety and efficacy of every vaccine for which registration is sought in Thailand, he said.
The AstraZeneca emergency vaccine, which was registered for approval in Thailand on 20th January, was raised for consideration by the FDA on 22nd December, almost a full month prior to its registration. During the month, the FDA had examined documents submitted to support the bid, he said.
By approving the vaccine for emergency use, a strict monitoring system is required in the administration of the vaccine, he said.
Registration is also being sought for another vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech pending submission of additional documents, he said.