Thailand can now expect to receive its first batch of the mRNA-based Moderna COVID-19 vaccine this month, sooner than expected.
The importer, Zuellig Pharma, has secured a new source from the United States, the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) said.
The GPO’s assurance yesterday was echoed by the Private Hospital Association (Thailand) and confirmed by Zuellig Pharma, the vaccine’s authorised distributor in Thailand, which in remarks one day earlier said it could supply the vaccine by November. That has now been sped up to this month.
The GPO, a state-owned drug-making agency, said Zuellig would supply Thailand with batches from different suppliers in both the US and Europe.
Shipments are expected to carry on into next year.
As the public was asked to pre-order their doses several months ago, the delays and lack of clear updates caused a firestorm on social media, as well as a campaign on change.org to impeach GPO director Witoon Danwiboon for not being able to competently perform his duties.
In its defence, the GPO said Zuellig had encountered difficulties in obtaining the vaccine from the production site in Europe, which had caused the shipment to be delayed.
However, the company has now found a way to import the first shipment of 1.9 million doses — as per the original schedule in October — from another plant source in the United States, it said.
“We will closely follow up on this case and push to ensure the first shipment arrives in October.
“As soon as the vaccine arrives, it will be distributed to those hospitals that have reserved it,” the GPO said.
Two more shipments of 3.1 million and 3.7 million doses are expected to arrive by the first quarter of next year, it added.
Meanwhile, the National Health Security Office (NHSO) said it would amend regulations for foreign workers to make it easier to assess whether they have the right to receive compensation in the event they develop any adverse affects following immunisation.
The regulation will be retroactively applied to 5th April this year.
For Thais, the NHSO offers up to 100,000 baht in compensation for those who require regular medical treatment after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, while those who become permanently disabled as a result can claim up to 240,000 baht.
In the event of loss of life, the payout is limited to 400,000 baht.