Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has assured the public that half of the country’s population will get free COVID-19 jabs this year.
As Thailand prepares to launch the first COVID-19 vaccinations next month, Gen Chan-o-cha gave details about free COVID-19 jabs on his Facebook page.
He also announced a long-term plan to ensure Thais will have access to affordable and locally made vaccines.
He said the country will receive the first 200,000 doses of vaccine, made by Sinovac, a Chinese pharmaceutical company, in February and they have been reserved for frontline medical staff and elderly people at high risk.
The first lot is a part of two million doses which the government ordered from the company. Another 800,000 and one million doses will arrive later in March and April. Previously, the government pre-ordered 26 million doses from AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish company, and recently sourced another 35 million doses.
He assured the authority and public health sector has prepared for local COVID-19 vaccine research and production. Gen Chan-o-cha said local pharmaceutical manufacturer, Siam Bioscience, received a concession from Oxford University/AstraZeneca to produce the vaccines. The company plans to produce 200 million doses annually.
Gen Chan-o-cha said medical institutes at the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chulalongkorn University, also planned to produce their own COVID-19 vaccine formulae.
“In a crisis, there are always opportunities. And in the COVID-19 crisis, we can turn Thailand into a medical hub,” Gen Chan-o-cha said.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said the government would not prohibit the private sector from importing vaccines.
He said the government will not monopolise COVID-19 vaccine supply in the country. “We only need to ensure any imported vaccines used are approved officially,” he said.