All residents of Thailand, regardless of citizenship, will be eligible for free vaccinations against COVID-19, health officials said today as they sought to address concerns over the kingdom’s slow rollout of inoculations.
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said 200,000 doses of Chinese-made CoronaVac will be the first to arrive this month, then a small batch of AstraZeneca vaccines that will be followed by millions more than originally planned. With the prospects of Thailand’s eventual vaccine supply more than doubling, he said all residents could receive it for free.
“The total 63 million doses this year are enough to cover the public, and it’s within our capacity to provide free inoculation,” Anutin said. “We have a policy to not leave anyone behind and must inoculate anyone at risk of spreading the virus, not only Thais. So the vaccines will cover everyone that resides in Thailand.”
That would be enough vaccine supply to inoculate nearly half of the population with the necessary two jabs.
Sixty-one million of those doses will come from domestic production of AstraZeneca by the Crown Property Bureau’s Siam Bioscience. Anutin said Thailand has secured permission to manufacture an additional 35 million doses on top of the original 26 million approved, making for 61 million total.
When Siam Bioscience will make good on its supply remains to be seen. Health officials recently said production was delayed from May to June.
Thailand has lagged behind other nations, many of which began vaccinating their populations last month, stirring controversy over the decision to consolidate production with one, royally controlled firm.
Before any of its production reaches the public, approximately 2 million doses will arrive from abroad, earmarked for those most in need, including medical personnel and people with underlying conditions.
That includes the initial Sinovac Biotech batch and 50,000 AstraZeneca doses purchased from Italy coming this month.
Thailand expects another 1.8 million doses of Sinovac to arrive by the end of April. It also expects another 150,000 Italian AstraZeneca doses by April.
This article, Everyone in Thailand may get free vaccine – when they’re available, at least, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.