Thailand could be first in ASEAN to produce vaccines
The Foreign Affairs and Public Health Ministries are working in tandem to ensure that Thailand will be the first ASEAN member to produce its own vaccines.
Tanee Saengrat, the foreign ministry’s spokesperson, said that during a recent strategic consultation between Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai and Minister of Public Health Anutin Chanvirakun, the two ministries reaffirmed their joint effort to secure more vaccines from around the world. They also urged relevant agencies under their ministries to work closely together to get all the vaccines the country needs.
Tanee also said that if the ongoing trials of a locally made vaccine are successful, Thailand would become the first ASEAN member to originate its own vaccine. At the moment, several laboratories are conducting research and some are already conducted clinical trials. The ChulaCov19 vaccine is the most advanced to date.
The recent surge in infections and the discovery of new clusters in Bangkok and its adjacent areas, as well as other outbreaks in the provinces has resulted in the demand for vaccinations to soar. However, despite the government’s hope of procuring up to 110 million doses by the end of this year, supply has suffered due to growing demand around the world in response to the widespread Delta variant appearing in numerous countries.
Last week, the government of Bhutan offered 150,000 doses to Thailand under an agreement that will see Thailand return the same amount of vaccine to Bhutan in the future, as outlined in a memorandum of understanding.
Meanwhile, the ChulaCov19 vaccine, which has been developed by a team of doctors and scientists at Chulalongkorn University, is now entering the third phase of clinical trials. The research team is hoping that by the end of this year or early next year, the country will be able to start producing its own doses of an effective vaccine.
As of last week, infections in ASEAN had reached nearly 7 million, with Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand reporting the highest number of new cases. On Saturday, Thailand saw 20,571 cases.
As the regional center of manufacture, Thailand expected to produce at least 10 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine monthly, but has only been able to supply 5-6 million for the domestic market. So far, the country has managed to fully inoculate just 7.1% of its population and daily new infections are projected to double next month. (NNT)