The US has offered to donate a million more COVID-19 vaccine doses, probably Moderna, to Thailand, Foreign Affairs Minister Don Pramudwinai revealed on Tuesday.
Mr Pramudwinai said that the Disease Control Department of Public Health Ministry is preparing to propose the US offer to the cabinet for approval.
The planned vaccines follow earlier large donations given by the US to Thailand in an effort to help fight the pandemic.
Asked if the vaccines will be imported by this month, Mr Pramudwinai said it will depend on how fast the department submits the required documents to the cabinet for approval.
Virologist Yong Poovorawan said via his Facebook account that Thailand can follow the UK’s method by administering a half dose of Moderna vaccine as a booster shot for AstraZeneca vaccine recipients.
In the UK and many European countries, they administered half a dose of Moderna as the booster shot to those who earlier had AstraZeneca, while Switzerland gave a full dose to those aged 70 and over. The US administers a half dose of Moderna to fully vaccinated Moderna and Pfizer recipients.
Dr Poovorawan, from the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University, said the centre is studying booster dose requirements for a range of vaccination scenarios involving Moderna booster shots. He said for those who had two shots of Sinovac or Sinopharm, there is no information on what amount of Moderna vaccine should be used as a booster.
Meanwhile, a fact-finding probe found that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which was given at a privately run clinic in Aranyaprathet district of Sa Kaeo for 2,800 baht, may have been illegally imported by a patient from Cambodia, said Dr Surachoke Tangwiwat, deputy secretary-general of the FDA.
The probe came after a J&J vaccine recipient applied for a vaccine passport, but the vaccination data was not found in the ministry’s Immunisation Centre system. The request then was denied and also led to the investigation of the clinic.
Dr Tangwiwat said what occurred is illegal and could result in those involved facing up to five years in prison, a fine of up to 10,000 baht or both for breaching section 12 of the Drug Act. Vaccines can only be imported by an eligible firm for proper storage reasons.
Johnson & Johnson is a part of the government’s vaccine procurement plan with the J&J vaccine soon to be imported by Janssen-Cilag Co Ltd.