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The Chulabhorn Royal Academy (CRA) will work with the Ministry of Public Health and the Food and Drug Association (FDA) to procure doses of the Covid-19 vaccine made by Chinese producer Sinopharm as an alternative option for Thailand, secretary-general Dr Nithi Mahanonda said Friday.
Thailand’s FDA approved Sinopharm for emergency use on Friday.
The CRA said they are planning to bring in at least one million doses of Sinopharm, adding that it will distribute the vaccines to relevant and interested organizations in the public and private sectors. The selling price will be the same throughout the country, the CRA said.
Dr Nithi said the single-retail price is estimated to cost no more than 1,000 baht per dose.
Late Wednesday the CRA said they had received authority to act unilaterally to support the government’s response to the Covid-10 crisis. The government has been heavily criticized for its efforts in handling the pandemic, including its vaccine acquisition.
Dr Nithi later said Thursday that the new provisions will remain in place until the situation is better and medical supplies are sufficient.
Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV, better known as the Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine, is an inactivated coronavirus vaccine developed by the China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm) and the Beijing Institute of Biological Products. It is also the first non-Western vaccine to be approved for emergency use by the World Health Organization (WHO), gaining authorization for the WHO’s COVAX Initiative on May 7, 2021.
With an efficacy rate of 79 per cent in all age groups combined according to the WHO, Sinopharm is now distributed in at least 57 countries worldwide. It completed its Phase III, real-world study in Argentina, Bahrain, Egyst, Morocco, Pakistan, Peru, and the United Arab Emirates. WHO recommends that the vaccine is suitable for any adult aged 18 and older, “in a two-dose schedule with a spacing of three to four weeks.”
Although not as popular or effective as its more modern mRNA counterparts, the Sinopharm is highly suitable for low-resource settings as it can be transported and stored at normal refrigerated temperatures. Pfizer and Moderna, on the other hand, pose challenges to some areas as they require deep-freeze storage and transportation.