Health Ministry Says AstraZeneca Vaccines Will Be Available As Planned

Authorities have confirmed that more AstraZeneca COVID-19 shots would be delivered as planned next month, following escalating concerns that anticipated jabs made by a local facility might not be available as scheduled.

On Monday, some vaccination centers reported that they only had Sinovac’s shot to give people as they had run out of AstraZeneca vaccines.

The concern was further compounded by a plan to delay second AstraZeneca shots four weeks during a 16-week interval rather than the 12-week interval originally set. According to the doctors, the decision was based on new research showing that antibody levels produced to fight the coronavirus were higher when the follow-up vaccine arrives later.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Monday that Thailand would receive another batch of jabs, produced by the firm, in June.

“If the shots made in Thailand are not ready, the company is bound to find them from somewhere else to fill our order as stipulated in the contract,” he added. But the government has refused to reveal the contract’s content despite numerous calls from opposition political parties.

Mr. Anutin stated that the vaccine manufacturer was aware of the country’s vaccination schedule, implying that it would be prepared to fulfill its request.

He added that AstraZeneca should deliver vaccines on time regardless of whether the local production facility is ready. According to the planned vaccination program, people aged 60 or more and those diagnosed with seven underlying conditions can get the shot if registered in the Mor Prom mobile app.

Health volunteers would also get the vaccine from that date.

Previously, officials said that the group would receive the shots of the first batch made by Siam Bioscience, a local company hired to produce AstraZeneca’s vaccines. However, Mr. Anutin said Monday that all the vaccines the country has would be administered to people in that group, meaning that Sinovac and another jab available would also be used.

The government approved Sinovac vaccines’ use in people aged 60 or older after suspending their administration in that group for lack of trial by the manufacturer.

It was earlier reported that the locally manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine would be delivered a little ahead of schedule. After the announcement, authorities said the country would have 1.7 million of the first batch of 6 million doses by May 21 at the latest.

Under the original schedule, the first lot of all 61 million doses Thailand ordered should be shipped next month.