AstraZeneca Covid vaccine will be Thailand’s ‘flagship’ vaccine: Health minister


A health worker holds a box of AstraZeneneca vaccine at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Diseases Institute in Nonthaburi province, outside Bangkok.

Chaiwat Subprasom | Images SOPA | LightRocket via Getty Images

The coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford will be Thailand’s “flagship vaccine” as the country seeks to revive its crucial tourism sector, the Thai public health minister told CNBC on Monday.

Renewed safety concerns surrounding the AstraZeneca-Oxford injection led countries such as Germany and the Netherlands to stop using the vaccine in people under the age of 60.

Before those latest moves, several countries, including Thailand, discontinued use of the AstraZeneca vaccine after reports of blood clots in some people who received the injection. But many lifted their suspensions after the World Health Organization said its review of available data showed that the benefits of the vaccine outweigh any risks.

In Thailand, more than 150,000 people have been inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine and the percentage of people who developed side effects “is considered very low,” said Anutin Charnvirakul, the country’s deputy prime minister and minister of public health.

Anutin told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” that Thailand is expecting more deliveries of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which are expected around June. In addition to the AstraZeneca vaccine, Thailand also uses one developed by Sinovac Biotech of China, the minister said.

Since the end of February, nearly 250,000 people in Thailand have received Covid vaccines, Anutin said.

Attract foreign visitors

Compared to many countries globally, Thailand has reported relatively few Covid cases and deaths. Official data showed that as of Sunday, the country has confirmed more than 29,000 infections and 95 deaths.

But its tourism-dependent economy has been severely affected, contracting 6.1% in 2020 compared to a year ago, as countries restricted travel to slow the spread of Covid-19, according to data from the Office. of the National Council for Economic and Social Development.

Thailand is stepping up efforts to revive its tourism industry, including rolling out vaccines in “significant” quantities in popular tourist destinations like Phuket and Koh Samui, Anutin said.

“We want to make sure our people are safe, that’s our first priority. So once our people are safe, we believe that our guests, that is, tourists or anyone on business, will definitely come to visit our country,” he said. the minister. .

To attract visitors, Thailand has shortened the quarantine period for foreigners arriving in the country starting this month. The country also aims to eliminate quarantine requirements for vaccinated foreign visitors to its largest holiday island, Phuket.

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