Doubts emerge about Thailand’s pursuit of AstraZeneca vaccine due to company’s ‘spotty disclosure’

A Ministry of Public Health official told Thai Enquirer on Thursday that the government’s decision to buy a vaccine developed by British pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca is in question after the company revealed discrepancies in its trials.

The government had said on Wednesday that it was planning to buy the coronavirus vaccine that was being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University.

Traisuree Taisaranakul, the deputy government spokesperson, said the purchase is estimated to worth more than 6 billion baht (US$200 million) and that the first batch will be delivered by mid-2021.

She added that the government will sign the pre-order deal on November 27.

However, Thai Enquirer understands that the government is closely scrutinizing the purchase order after experts questioned the company’s lack of transparency in disclosing certain trial results.

Questions over Trial

According to a New York Times article, the firm did not fully disclose the age groups in which the virus saw its desired efficacy and that questions over dosage remains.

AstraZeneca has revised its figures down to 70 per cent effective from an earlier reported 90 percent due to a mix-up in dosage given to some patients during the trial phase.

AstraZeneca’s vaccine was touted as a miracle drug when the results were first revealed as the company’s vaccine is cheaper and easier to store than the ones being developed by Pfizer and Moderna, which showed 95 per cent protection.

“There have been some issues with AstraZeneca and public disclosure since the initial results were revealed,” said the Thai Ministry of Public Health official who asked for anonymity.

“We’re reviewing our purchase order right now and the government will contact their representatives. I think the deal can go ahead if we’re given some assurances.”

Future Plans

AstraZeneca said they are looking to develop at least three billion jabs by 2021 if everything goes as plan. The UK government has already pre-ordered 100 million doses.

The drug firm said in its press release that the latest trial in the UK and Brazil with over 20,000 participants showed that the vaccine was “highly effective in preventing COVID-19”. 

“These  findings  show  that  we  have  an  effective  vaccine  that  will  save  many  lives,” said Professor Andrew Pollard, Chief Investigator of the Oxford Vaccine Trial at Oxford, in the statement.

“Excitingly, we’ve found that one of our dosing regimens may be around 90 per cent effective and if this dosing regime is used, more people could be vaccinated with planned vaccine supply,” he added.

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