Thailand will stop using the COVID-19 vaccine of China’s Sinovac when its current stock finishes, a senior Public Health Ministry official said on Monday, having used the shot extensively in combination with Western-developed vaccines.
Thailand used over 31.5 million Sinovac doses since February, starting with two doses to frontline workers, high-risk groups and residents of Phuket, the holiday island that reopened to tourists in July in a pilot scheme.
In July, Thailand started inoculating people with Sinovac as a first dose followed by the Oxford University-developed AstraZeneca. Thailand was the first country to combine Chinese and Western shots, a strategy its health officials said has proved effective.
“We expect to have distributed all Sinovac doses this week,” said Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, the Department of Disease Control director-general, adding the programme will switch to combining the AstraZeneca vaccine with that made by Pfizer and BioNTech.
Thailand next year plans to buy 120 million Covid-19 vaccine doses in total and has already booked 60 million doses of AstraZeneca, a vaccine it manufactures locally.
Thailand has said it will only procure vaccines effective against new variants.
It has so far vaccinated 36% of the estimated 72 million people who live in Thailand and hopes to reach 70% by year-end.
The country is forging ahead with a quarantine-free reopening plan next month of 17 provinces to vaccinated arrivals from low-risk countries. Included will be destinations like Pattaya, Hua Hin, Chiang Mai and Bangkok.
Thailand has recorded nearly 1.8 million cases and 18,336 fatalities overall, more than 98% in the past seven months.