The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has dismissed a claim made online by ex-prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra in which he said the Pfizer vaccine was already in Thailand for emergency and exclusive use among a certain group of people.
“The Pfizer vaccine is not yet in this country because Pfizer has yet to register its COVID-19 vaccine with us,” FDA secretary-general Paisarn Dankum, said via a Facebook Live press briefing on Wednesday.
Dr Dankum said the importing of any vaccine needed to follow FDA regulations. This meant any company wanting to import a vaccine must get approval from the FDA first.
As for the Pfizer vaccine, he said the company has been cleared to import its COVID-19 vaccine into the country.
However, it had not yet sought a licence for the purpose Thaksin had claimed it was being used for.
About 30 days are needed to get a licence from the FDA to issue COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use only, he said.
“We have not yet received any request from the company for a licence, but hopefully it will happen shortly,” the doctor said.
“Therefore, it is impossible to find the Pfizer vaccine here.
“We have already checked just in case and not found any. So the claim is false.”
Anyone importing a vaccine into the country without receiving state permission will be fined 5,000 baht or jailed for three years or both, he warned.
Dr Dankum held the press briefing to deny claims Thaksin made online on the CARE Clubhouse x CARE TALK channel, that a small supply of Pfizer vaccine was already in the country for use by a select few people.
Shortly after the FDA press briefing, Pfizer said the company had a clear policy that any purchasing deal had to go through a government agency.
It said one was now being discussed with the Ministry of Public Health to provide the vaccine for Thais.
According to the statement, Pfizer has been working with many governments worldwide to provide the vaccine for as many people as possible, including Thais.
“We want to certify that the company has no policy of selling the vaccine through any private agent,” the company said.
“Until now, we have never imported the COVID-19 vaccine through our office in Thailand.”
The government is in discussions with Pfizer to place an order for about 10 million doses which are expected to arrive in the country by the end of this year.
The vaccine producer says it can be used for children aged over 12 years and kept at a higher temperature than the vaccine it initially produced.
Currently, the FDA has already approved three COVID-19 vaccines, from AstraZeneca, Sinovac and Johnson&Johnson.
The agency is now considering a request from Moderna to register its vaccine and expects to give its approval later this month.