Hospitals postpone Covid jabs amid delays in domestic AstraZeneca production

Some hospitals were being forced to postpone second rounds of Covid-19 inoculations as Siam Bioscience was falling behind in its scheduled production of the AstraZeneca vaccine, a news report said Monday.

Public hospitals such as Vajira, Chulabhorn, and Thammasat announced that they were short of vaccine stock over the weekend and will thus be delaying their scheduled shots, The Standard reported.

The report did not give details on the shortfall. Representatives of Siam Bioscience were not available for comment.

The news comes after earlier reports that the Siam Bioscience is not on track to fulfil its commitment to produce 6 million doses by the end of June. The schedule also states production levels of 10 million per month from July until the end of the year.

Dr Satit Pitutaecha, assistant governor to the Ministry of Public Health in an interview with The Standard explained that the initial 1.7 million doses for May will not be ready in time because the ministry had requested a change from the original production schedule.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said Monday that he had made no commitment to having vaccines available by June 1, only to start administering them on June 7.

Millions of Thais over 60 are registered with vaccination services and expecting their shots in May. With the latest developments, there are no promises as to when they will get it. 

Vajira Hospital has moved the start date for patients’ second dose of AstraZeneca from May 25 until June 4. “When we receive the vaccines, our hospital will notify you of the update,” the hospital said Sunday.

According to an earlier report by Thai Enquirer, a senior source within the ministry said in May that there has been a problem scaling up production within Siam Bioscience. Initial reports suggest production levels in June were likely to be around half of what was scheduled, the source said.

The government’s immunization plan, announced in May, relies on the local production of the UK-approved AstraZeneca vaccines by Siam Bioscience, and imports of the Chinese-produced Sinovac vaccine. Siam Bioscience has said it will produce a total of 61 million doses of AstraZeneca.

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