Row Continues Over Moderna Vaccine Imports

Moderna Vaccine

The Foreign Ministry says Thammasat University Hospital’s request for donated Moderna vaccine from Poland could not be formalised as it might undermine bilateral relations.

The ministry responded to the hospital’s Facebook post on 1st November saying its planned procurement of 1.5 million doses of Moderna vaccine donation from Poland had failed to materialise.

The hospital attributed the failure to the lack of a letter from the Foreign Ministry to confirm that the hospital was a state agency legally qualified to obtain vaccines from overseas. The letter was supposed to have been sent to the Polish authorities responsible for considering the donation.

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Countering the remark, the ministry explained yesterday it could not issue the letter because of two problems.

Firstly, the hospital said it planned to distribute one-third or 500,000 doses of the donated vaccine for free to people and the rest were to be offered for a fee by partner hospitals.

Second, the manufacturer of the vaccine forbids its sale unless it is granted prior market authorisation.

According to the ministry, the donated vaccine could not be sold and the hospital did not secure market authorisation from the Moderna producer. For these reasons, the ministry said it could not release the status confirmation letter for the hospital.

If the ministry, as a government representative, went ahead and issued the letter, it could undermine bilateral relations with Poland and erode trust between the countries, it said. The ministry said it also risked being sued by the vaccine manufacturer.

On Wednesday, the hospital rebuffed the ministry on Facebook, insisting the ministry never divulged the prohibition surrounding a sale of the vaccine to it. Nor did it make any inquiries to the hospital about the restriction.

In addition, the hospital is in the process of seeking permission from the Moderna producer to authorise its procurement of the vaccine from Poland.

The hospital said it was short of funds to finance the procurement of the donated vaccine which incurred a series of associated expenses such as inspection of vaccine quality, logistical costs and the running of warehouse storage of the vaccine.

In light of its financial constraint, the hospital said it had asked its partner hospitals to absorb the associated expenses. The partner hospitals could then recover the associated expenses by charging people who receive one million donated vaccines at 400 baht per dose.

The charge was necessary because the government was not covering the associated expenses.

The fee was still a lot cheaper than the 1,100 baht per dose of the commercially imported Moderna for which people are being charged at private hospitals, Thammasat University Hospital said.


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