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Thailand’s AstraZeneca Vaccine Rollout Plan Plagued by Shortages

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health, vaccine, Bangkok, Thailand's AstraZeneca Vaccine Rollout Plan Plagued by Shortages

The Thai governments vaccination rollout with AstraZeneca Thailand and Sinovac has come under fire due to a shortage of vaccines in Bangkok. Several public health and private hospitals announced their decision to postpone vaccinations amid a shortage of Covid-19 vaccines.

When pressed about the AstraZeneca Thailand shortage, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul blamed Bangkok’s city hall, who in turn blamed the Prayut government by saying it had received insufficient AstraZeneca Thailand supplies to meet its vaccination targets.

On Sunday, permanent secretary for public health Kiattiphum Wongrachit admitted that Thailand has so far received far less Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca Thailand than it had expected this month.

The shortfall has led to a major adjustment of the country’s mass vaccination programmes for July and September, Dr Kiattiphum said.

Several public and private hospitals across the capital, as well as a number of hospitals covered by health insurance in the provinces, have postponed vaccination appointments scheduled for this week. Saying they have not received enough vaccines from the Public Health Ministry.

Most of the postponed vaccination appointments were made by senior citizens and people with underlying medical conditions through the Mor Prom (“Doctor Ready”) vaccine tracker app.

Blame game over Vaccine shortages

Bangkok’s Namarak Hospital even posted a sarcastic remark on its social media channel, saying: “If you have any questions about this [postponement], please contact our call centre or contact the public health minister [directly] and ask why this lack of readiness has occurred.”

The post prompted Mr Anutin to give an interview on Channel 3, at 8pm Bangkok time in which he blamed the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA).

The minister said the Public Health Ministry had agreed to supply the BMA with one million doses of AstraZeneca Thailand and Sinovac vaccines and in less than two weeks 500,000 doses had already been delivered.

“So it cannot be said that they haven’t received the vaccine from the ministry, and saying so only shows a lack of responsibility,” he said. “The BMA’s health and medical departments should have tried their very best in managing the given vaccine supplies as they now have full control of everything there.”

Mr Anutin said his ministry was quick to have all 500,000 doses of the vaccine delivered to the BMA although it had initially planned to send only 250,000 doses initially, and the rest later.

“Please don’t say the ministry isn’t doing anything because it already has distributed all vaccine supplies received from the suppliers to eligible parties as instructed by the CCSA and on time,” he said.

Soon after Mr Anutin’s interview, the BMA’s public relations office posted a statement on its Facebook page saying that the ministry failed to supply vaccines to the BMA as planned.

Vaccine from AstraZeneca Thailand coming

It said the BMA was notified by the ministry that 2.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca Thailand vaccine will be provided, so the BMA planned its mass vaccination program accordingly.

So far the BMA has received only 350,000 vaccine doses, in addition to the 150,000 Sinovac jabs it has to cover injections from last Monday until today.

Of these received doses, 181,400 doses of the AstraZeneca Thailand vaccine have been redistributed to hospitals in Bangkok handling vaccination appointments. The BMA only supplies the jabs given by the ministry to these hospitals for the health care vaccination program, where up to 450,000 people have already booked their vaccination appointments.

Out of the total supply of 6.3 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines expected to be delivered this month, Bangkok was promised to get 1.16 million doses, while the other 76 provinces will receive 3.22 million doses, said Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control. Provinces with a less serious outbreak situation may be able to delay their vaccination programmes, Dr Opas said.

The Rural Doctors Society pointed out Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, in his capacity as head of the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), was to blame for the “vaccine chaos” in Bangkok. It said the CCSA resolved to give 1 million jabs for Bangkok in June and about 500,000 doses had been allocated last week.

Gen Prayut held a special meeting of the CCSA on May 3 which resolved to set up a Covid-19 centre for Bangkok and surrounding provinces. No cabinet ministers, not even the public health care minister, were appointed to the centre, the network said.

Source: Bangkok Post

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