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Government Gives OK For Private Orgs To Import FDA Approved Covid-19 Vaccines, Opts Against COVAX

Government allows private vaccines imports

UPDATES: With less than a week until Thailand’s first vaccination, Deputy Prime Minister of Thailand, Mr. Anutin Charnvirakul, announced the reversal of the government’s decision that allowed private organisations to import FDA approved Covid-19 vaccines, according to The Standard.

Covid-19 vaccines have been at the centre of discussion among Thais since the announcement of inoculations – whether it’s the vaccine manufacturers, prices or vaccination schedule. For those who may be hoping to have their pick of vaccines, the latest government’s announcement provides some good news.

Government spokesperson, Mr. Anucha Burapachaisri, announced on 24th January 2021 that the prime minister had greenlit a policy that allows private organisations to import Covid-19 vaccines. However, the organisations must submit proper documents and register their vaccines with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) beforehand, to ensure safety to Thai people.

The FDA offers full support

According to Channel 3, Mr. Burapachaisri stated that the FDA had confirmed their full support to expedite the Covid-19 vaccines registration process to speed up the inoculation. Despite the urgency of the situation, the FDA still ensured to strictly enforce the same rules and standards of vaccine safety.

“The process of finding and distributing Covid-19 vaccines must be carefully processed,” said the government spokesperson. “We must make sure that the imported vaccines are effective and, most of all, safe.”

Mr. Anucha Burapachaisri, the government spokesperson
Mr. Anucha Burapachaisri, the government spokesperson
Image credit: InfoQuest

The reason for denying free vaccines from WHO

COVAX is a programme launched by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the European Commission to help produce and distribute free Covid-19 vaccines to developing countries. 

According to the WHO, all developing countries in ASEAN decided to participate in the programme, except Thailand. The country’s announcement of private sectors being able to import vaccines left netizens wondering about the government’s stance on COVAX.

twitter reaction Thai government covax
“How come Thailand did not participate in the COVAX programme when the government said that they would do so?”
“All of the developing countries in ASEAN participated in the COVAX programme. Why didn’t we join them as well?”
Screenshot: nutchsngj, tanawatofficial 

According to Matichon, Director General of the Ministry of Public Health’s Disease Control Department (DCD), Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong, explained the reason behind the irresponsive decision is Thailand’s economy.

“The COVAX programme is for low-income countries,” said Dr. Karnkawinpong, according to Channel 3. “Thailand is a moderate-income country, and that is why we choose not to join the programme.”

Dr. Karnkawinpong also claimed that the reason Thailand opted not to participate involved the programme’s ambiguity. He explained that in order to participate in COVAX, Thailand was expected to chip in money for vaccine research in exchange for unspecified Covid-19 vaccines – an exchange he saw as unfit.

Current Covid-19 situation

The Covid-19 situation in Thailand is still alarming. With an average of 200 new cases daily, Dr. Apisamai Srirangsan, assistant spokeswoman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) predicted that the number of Covid-19 patients in Thailand could increase 2,000-3,000 within the next 5 days. 

Thailand covid-19 chart
Covid-19 patients in Thailand chart
Image credit: Department of Disease Control

Dr. Srirangsan emphasised that the number is just a speculation for now. She also added that if the actual number of patients decreases, the CCSA could consider options to further relax Covid-19 restrictions.

In the meantime, while we are all waiting for  Covid-19 vaccines, do not forget to wear masks, practice social distancing and strictly follow the precautionary measures to prevent further spreading of Covid-19. 

Read more about Covid-19 related articles here:

Featured image adapted from: InfoQuest, Bangkok Post

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