BANGKOK – China has delivered Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac to Thailand on Wednesday. It is the country’s first batch of coronavirus vaccines. Inoculation is set to commence this weekend.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha is expected to be among the first to receive the vaccine. Most doses have been reserved for frontline medical workers.
“Thank you to the People’s Republic of China for delivering the vaccine this month and subsequent months,” Prayuth said on the tarmac at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport as a refrigerated container bearing the flags of the two countries was lowered from a Thai Airways plane. Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul earlier this week said 117,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine would also arrive on Wednesday but a little delay got in the way.
Thailand is expecting further doses of CoronaVac in March and April to be administered mainly to health workers and at-risk groups. The country has been spared of the other variants seen elsewhere. To date, recorded cases of infections reached only a little over 25,000 overall while there had been only 83 reported deaths. Meanwhile, recoveries are almost 25,000.
The vaccine’s arrival came amid public criticism of the government’s slow-paced posturing in securing vaccines.
Its mass immunization campaign, which the government aims to administer to 10 million doses a month, will begin in June. It will utilize 26 million shots of AstraZeneca vaccines that is locally produced by Siam Bioscience. It has also reserved a further 35 million doses of the vaccine.
The government plans to vaccinate more than half the adult population this 2021.
“We will procure more as we produce them so there is enough to create herd immunity in our country,” Prayuth said.
He said the Chinese vaccine would need a few days to be prepared for inoculation.
“As for who will take it first is another story,” he said. (JSM/JuanManila)