Government plans to inoculate 10 million per month despite AstraZeneca shortfall

AstraZeneca will only be able to deliver 5-6 million doses per month but the plan to inoculate at least 10 million people per month will continue with the help of other vaccines, the government said on Tuesday.

In June, the government said the company will deliver 10 million doses per month until they reach 61 million doses by the end of the year.

However, the Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) said last week that the timeline for the delivery was not specified in the contract and AstraZeneca will not be able to deliver the amount until May 2022.

“This is a new vaccine, and they cannot tell us exactly how many doses they will be able to deliver every month,” said Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, the director-general of the Department of Disease Control (DDC). “There is a very high demand so there is a need for a constant negotiation before each batch can be delivered.”

AstraZeneca has so far delivered a total of 8.19 million doses to the Thai government as of July 18.

“AstraZeneca said via many channels that currently, they will be able to deliver around 5-6 million doses every month to Thailand from now on and it could be more or less based on the production capacity,” he added.

Dr Opas said the government’s vaccination plan to vaccinate 10 million people every month will continue, so they will find other vaccines to fill the void.

This includes 10.9 million doses of Sinovac and the 20 million doses of Pfizer in which the cabinet has approved the signing of last week.

“The vaccination of 10 million people every month should be able to handle the outbreak right now,” he said.

A total of 10.45 million Covid vaccines have been administered since the nationwide rollout on June 7, including 8.29 million first doses, bringing the total number of Thais who have had at least one jab to 11.07 million since February 28.

The DDC has signed a deal with Pfizer on Tuesday. The mRNA vaccines are expected to arrive within the fourth quarter of 2021.

Dr Opas also said that the 1.5 million Pfizer doses that the United States is donating to Thailand will arrive by the end of this month.

The MOPH said earlier this week that at least 700,000 doses that are being donated by the US will be used as a third booster shot for frontline medical workers who were mostly vaccinated with the Sinovac.

There is a concern that the Chinese-made vaccine is less effective against the Delta variant, first identified in India. The Delta variant is expected to overtake the Alpha variant, first identified in the United Kingdom, as the dominating variant in Thailand by September or October.    

Of the total 11,067,518 people who have received their first dose in Thailand so far, 4,264,394 were vaccinated with Sinovac, 6,332,899 were vaccinated with AstraZeneca and 470,225 were vaccinated with Sinopharm.

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