Experts Say AZ Vaccine Exports Should Go to Thai Residents

While the community demands the government to suspend the export of locally-produced Covid-19 vaccines, an expert warns that half of the population could catch the virus if not inoculated.

Dr. Manoon Leeechawengwong, a specialist in respiratory diseases at Vichaiyut Hospital, wrote on Facebook that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha should force Siam BioScience to reroute AstraZeneca vaccines set for export for three months.

The specialist asked the government to use locally-produced shots to urgently vaccinate Thais to contain the surge in Covid-19 infections in Thailand.

Dr. Manoon said authorities should take over their power and implement the National Security Act to prohibit Siam Bioscience from exporting domestically produced vaccines.

He said lockdown measures would not stop the spread of Covid-19 no matter how rigid they may be, as homes have become the main breeding ground for the coronavirus disease.

The leading expert predicted that half of Thailand’s 70 million population could be infected in the next 100 days unless 40-45 million citizens are vaccinated.

He said that at least 500,000 people must be inoculated daily to prevent massive infections on a larger scale.

Dr. Manoon also referred to a Canadian study that showed the AstraZeneca jab to be 87% effective in preventing deaths linked to the more contagious Covid-19 Delta variant.

The Delta strain, first detected in India, currently dominates Thailand’s case toll.

While the locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine is effective in preventing fatalities caused by other virus variants, the government has failed to procure and manage vaccines, he added.

Dr. Manoon insisted that the only way to solve the vaccine shortage in Thailand is to stop its export, as other medical experts have previously proposed.

After noting that Siam BioScience produces around 15 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine each month, he stated that diverting those shots for domestic use for three months could help Thailand reduce its case toll and coronavirus-related deaths by 80%.

Furthermore, it could substantially reduce the number of patients in hospitals, he added.