Thai PM defends pandemic management strategy during no-confidence grilling

The Thai PM has come under fire on day 3 of a no-confidence debate against Prayut Chan-o-cha and his administration. In responding to the criticism, the PM has defended the government’s handling of the pandemic and its vaccine procurement policy. According to a Bangkok Post report, the PM says that Thailand’s management of the Covid-19 crisis could be considered above average.

He has mentioned the country’s infection rate of 1.8% and 0.96% fatality rate, saying this compares well with the global infection rate of 2.8% and mortality rate of 2.1%. The PM also claims that his government has managed to bring the Delta variant under control, pointing to the number of recovered patients being discharged from hospital care.

Responding to criticism of the government’s vaccine procurement strategy, the PM has defended the decision not to join Covax, a World Health Organisation initiative aimed at ensuring global equity in vaccine distribution. He has also spoken up in favour of the technology transfer deal with AstraZeneca, in which manufacturing rights were granted to Siam Bioscience. According to the PM, the deal will benefit Thailand in the long-term.

The PM and his administration have faced a barrage of criticism from all corners over a failure to provide enough Covid-19 vaccines for the nation, the slow pace of the vaccine rollout, and the controversial decision to mix and match doses, with people who are given Sinovac as a first dose now getting AstraZeneca for the second. Referring to the Chinese-made Sinovac, the PM has warned opposition MPs not to be so vocal in their criticism of the vaccine, lest they damage bilateral trade agreements.

“Vaccines are a delicate issue and devaluing certain vaccines when there are no facts can have consequences. I urge you to use discretion and you will have to take responsibility for your comments.”

The PM’s defence of his handling of the pandemic has fallen on deaf ears in some quarters, however. The former leader of the New Economics Party, Mingkwan Saengsuwan, says he believes the PM has failed and he will not be casting a vote of confidence for him.

“Covid-19 and the economy are related and they are matters of life and death for Thai people. You should step down and let people who understand the situation resolve the situation. I have no confidence in Prayut.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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