Government must invest in second-generation vaccines or fall behind again, official says

Officials inside the Ministry of Public Health are petitioning the Prayut Chan-ocha administration and the Minister of Public Health to invest in second-generation vaccines for 2022.

Officials have grown increasingly concerned in the previous weeks that Thailand is playing a catchup game in its acquisition of Covid-19 vaccines even as the government goes ahead with purchases of “first-generation” vaccines – which may be obsolete by as early as mid next year.

The government said on Tuesday that it was going ahead with purchases of the Chinese-made Sinovac doses despite widespread concerns over its efficacy and price.

“Forget Sinovac, even the mRNA vaccines may be less effective as the virus continues to mutate in 2022,” a senior public health official told Thai Enquirer on condition of anonymity.

“That means we must look at the vaccines that are being developed now that are more effective and cheaper. We must pre-order these so that the mistakes of the past two years are not repeated.”

The Delta variant, which was first found in India, has become the dominant Covid-19 strain in the world. The variant is marked by both its increased transmissibility and its resistance to existing Covid-19 vaccines. Even those double vaccinated with mRNA vaccines in the United States have been infected – albeit with little to no symptoms.

“Everyone is rushing to develop better vaccines that not only prevent symptoms but prevent infections, we must study these all closely,” the official said.

The senior official added that even a locally developed vaccine by Chulalongkorn University shows promise but more funding must be allocated to the research.

“Right now too much of our funding is going to first-generation solutions that may not be adequate in the future.”

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