Thai Prime Minister hits back at opposition claims to do with vaccine acquisition
The Prime Minister has maintained his government is doing all it can to provide vaccinations to the public, on the third day of the no-confidence debate in Parliament.
The opposition continued to focus on the government’s COVID-19 response on the third day of the censure debate in the House of Representatives, accusing the administration of failing to acquire an adequate quantity of vaccine, and pointing out that it spent just over 3.9 billion baht in purchasing Sinovac doses, despite receiving approval for 5.5 billion baht over five programs, resulting in a difference of over 1.6 billion baht. The opposition stated that neither Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha or Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Health Anutin Chanvirakul had clearly addressed the matter. The opposition side also called on the PM to clarify if he had ever ordered that Antigen Test Kits purchased by the state needed to be approved by the World Health Organization, pointing out that it recorded such an order on August 16.
Gen Prayut responded by saying the government has been adjusting its response plan in line with COVID-19 Delta strain, which has impacted nations across the globe. He detailed that since May of this year, measures such as proactive screening, field hospitals, high control zones and lockdowns have been employed.
The premier confirmed that an effort is ongoing to vaccinate as many citizens as possible, noting that Thai physicians developed the mixed vaccine approach to enhance efficacy, and addding that booster shots are also being provided. He pointed out that infection rates are dropping, indicating the undertaking is achieving its objectives. He refuted claims that there was any malfeasance in terms of the specifications for Antigen Test Kits, in the interests of any particular party, stating the process is being undertaken carefully and warning the opposition against presenting false documentation in Parliament.
Gen Prayut called opposition claims of overpriced vaccinations false, elaborating that prices were set by sellers and that other expenses, such as transport and management, have to be accounted for. On why Thailand did not join the COVAX program, the PM said it was a decision based on the best interests of the public, as the project does not allow for the selection of particular vaccines or any changes to delivery schedules. He underlined that the administration is using its private sector and diplomatic connections to acquire vaccines and should hit its targets within the year. (NNT)