Virus expert Yong Poovorawan has urged the government to carry out a focused mass vaccination drive in 6 provinces facing critical danger from COVID-19.
The suggestion marks a departure from the current blanket approach of inoculating the population nationwide according to priority groups.
Dr Poovorawan said a focused, province-based vaccination should be the first step towards a faster and more effective containment of Thailand’s third COVID-19 outbreak.
The chief of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University, Dr Poovorawan said that in COVID-19 ravaged countries, outbreaks primarily started in densely populated cities before spreading to outlying provinces, with rural villages among the last to be hit.
According to a study conducted in the UK, mass vaccinations significantly stem the spread of the outbreak by lessening the virulence of COVID-19 among the population.
The six provinces classified by the Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) as dark-red zones where the new cases are most prevalent are Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Chon Buri, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani and Samut Prakan.
The inoculation programme should focus on dark-red zones to control the bulk of the outbreak before moving on to other cities and smaller communities in remote areas, said Dr Poovorawan.
He also noted that mass vaccinations were more likely to be done efficiently in big cities given the resources and manpower available. Priority should also be given to vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.
Some people in Thailand seem unenthusiastic about having the vaccine, he admitted, so Thailand’s target of vaccinating between 300,000-500,000 vulnerable people per day would be difficult to reach.