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New provisions passed by the Chulabhorn Royal Academy (CRA) to bring in vaccines were to remain in place until supplies are sufficient, a spokesman said Thursday.
Thailand’s government has been heavily criticized for its vaccine acquisition programme by doctors and members of the opposition.
The latest development comes after it was revealed by several news organizations including Thai Enquirer that the local producer of AstraZeneca would fail to meet its projected numbers in June.
A CRA representative explained its “alternative vaccine” role, a day after announcing in the Royal Gazette that they were given powers to act unilaterally to secure vaccines and act in the public’s interest on issues concerning the Covid-19 pandemic.
Secretary-General Professor Nithi Mahanonda on Facebook said that when vaccines have been sufficiently distributed, the CRA will gradually reduce its supply.
He further explained why it had decided to join in the government’s vaccine strategy, and gave the following clarifications:
- The CRA will come in to help provide further vaccine options to the Thai public. Once the vaccines developed and distributed within Thailand are deemed sufficient, the CRA will slowly reduce those options, which includes other pharmaceutical products, drugs, and medical supplies that could all be produced in the country. The CRA is committed to supporting products created in Thailand, taking into account the health and safety of the people as priority.
- The CRA is still a division that is required to comply with all the relevant laws and regulations regarding the production, importation, as well as the licensing of medical and public health products and services during this emergency.
- This announcement is also in accordance with the sentiments of the CRA’s Council as a means to support the government and Ministry of Public Health during this time, in which both are the main agencies of this country. This assistance is through the utilization of the CRA’s resources in the research, education, and international relations with the other countries.
- The CRA has long been working alongside the Ministry of Public Health on various matters, to ensure the health and safety for all of Thailand.
The CRA will also hold a press conference together with the Ministry of Public Health on Friday, together with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), under the title “Guidelines for the allocation and import of alternative vaccines: Sinopharm.”
Meanwhile, Thailand’s Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam on Thursday also clarified the new partnership, pointing that the CRA is now of equal status to the ministry, in order to fill Thailand’s vaccine void. He added that the CRA has the budget and resources to secure more vaccines and offer more options to the Thai people, and will reduce those options once the distribution is deemed sufficient.
“The CRA has the legal powers to issue announcements like this in order to import and distribute vaccines, medical supplies, and pharmaceutical products,” the minister explained. “They must comply with all existing laws, as well as requesting authorization from the FDA and Ministry of Public Health.”
The deputy prime minister also added that this power has been used only because there is a current crisis in the country, in which Thailand has an urgent need to fill its vaccine void.
Once the crisis is over, the powers will be given back to the authorities at hand and the importation and distribution of vaccines by the CRA will be stopped.
“This is all in accordance with the existing laws and regulations in Thailand, in all respects,” Wissanu emphasized.