Moderna coronavirus vaccines were sold out within minutes this week when Phayathai Hospital of Bangkok opened bookings on Shopee, Southeast Asia’s biggest e-commerce platform.
With the outbreak worsening and concerns growing about the efficacy of vaccines offered locally – mainly Sinovac and AstraZeneca- appetite has grown quickly in Thailand for mRNA vaccines, which won’t be available until near the end of the year.
“It was sold out within minutes,” a Shopee spokesperson said on Friday, adding the vaccine sale saw a spike in traffic on the Phyathai Hospital page, attracting 2.6 million visitors.
The hospital offered 1,800 slots for doses of the Moderna vaccine at 1,650 baht a piece.
“They were sold out at record speed,” hospital CEO Att Thongtang told Reuters. “I feel very sorry for those who missed it.”
One buyer called “lovesujuforever” wrote: “It’s gone in 15 seconds and I’m so lucky to get one.”
Another, “labellelabel”, said: “It’s a fight for vaccine.”
Thonburi Healthcare Group Plc has sold all 800,000 Moderna doses it ordered in two days, chairman Boon Vanasin told Reuters.
Demand for the Moderna vaccine has increased after a leaked health ministry memo showed the government was considering giving a booster shot of mRNA vaccine to medical workers who had already received two doses of Sinovac vaccine.
Thailand and neighbours like Indonesia have reported breakthrough infections among medical and frontline workers inoculated with Sinovac’s inactivated virus vaccine.
Thailand is also using the viral vector vaccine of AstraZeneca, but health experts have urged the government to include more mRNA vaccines in its programme, like that of Pfizer and BioNTech.
Private hospitals in Thailand, via state procurement, will receive five million doses of the Moderna vaccine between this year and 2022. Thailand has also ordered 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, for delivery after October.