Private hospitals given green light to acquire vaccines on their own

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha instructed government agencies to facilitate the private sector’s efforts to procure coronavirus vaccines, the government said on Friday.  

Government red tape had previously hindered efforts by private hospitals to acquire vaccines with the the public health ministry dragging its feet on approving private acquisition.

“The PM is concerned about the news that the government’s vaccine procuring plan is providing benefit to one person or a large company so there was a discussion at the CCSA’s meeting today,” said Dr Taweesin Visanuyothin, a spokesman for the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

“The PM, as head of the CCSA, had agreed with all the proposals that the private sector have proposed today, which is mainly the policy for the private sector to help procure more vaccines and they have asked for the government to facilitate them,” he added.

Taweesin said there is more demand for coronavirus vaccines.

The country had received one million doses of Sinovac’s vaccine and 117,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine so far.

Thailand has the capacity to inject 10,000 – 14,000 people per province per day and so far, more than 470,000 people have received their first dose between February 28 and April 9, the Ministry of Public Health said.

Taweesin said that more orders for vaccines are on the way. Coupled with the rollout of the locally produced AstraZeneca’s vaccine in June, the government would have procured 70 million doses by the end of the year, which would be enough for 35 million people.

The National Vaccine Institute (NVI) has estimated that at least 40 million people have to be vaccinated before a herd immunity can be reached.

Taweesin said the premier had instructed Dr Piyasakon Sakonsattayathorn, former health minister and an adviser to the CSSA, to head a joint public and private committee which include the NVI, the GPO, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Private Hospital Association, and other related private associations to come up with solutions to help fulfill the missing ten million doses.

The committee was given one month to report back to the CCSA with an agreeable and workable policy for the alternative procurement plan of the vaccines.

Right now, the FDA has approved the use of Sinovac’s, AstraZeneca’s and Johnson & Johnson’s vaccines in Thailand.

The administration is now looking to approve other vaccines as well and “it will happen”, Taweesin said. However, he did not specify which vaccine will be approved next.

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