AstraZeneca Covid jabs set to arrive in Thailand, sub-committee confirms

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Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha holds a vial of the Coronavac Covid-19 vaccine, developed by China’s Sinovac firm, as its shipment arrived in Bangkok on Wednesday. AFP

The first lot of AstraZeneca vaccines were set to arrive in Thailand on February 24 afternoon, Dr Sopon Mekthon, chairman of the government’s sub-committee on Covid-19 vaccine management, confirmed.

Around 100,000 doses of the vaccine will be used to inject 50,000 people.

The public health ministry said the AstraZeneca vaccine would also be used to inject people aged 60 and over, noting that China’s Sinovac isn’t recommended for this age group.

Thailand will receive AstraZeneca from the company’s plant in Italy, where the European Commission is strictly monitoring exports.

Thai authorities will take at least three days to check the quality of both Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines. As soon as the vaccines are considered safe, vaccinations will commence, even if on a Sunday, they stressed.

The first vaccinations will be conducted at the Bamrasnaradura Infectious Disease Institute.

The sub-committee hopes both Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and health minister Anutin Charnvirakul will take different vaccines to boost public confidence, with Prayut – at age 66 – reportedly set to receive AstraZeneca while Anutin will reportedly take Sinovac.

Dr Sopon said there was no major difference between the two vaccines. Both need to be stored at 2-8 degrees Celsius.

After being injected, both ministers will be observed for symptoms, if any, at the hospital for 30 minutes.

For Sinovac vaccines, two doses are required – injected two-to-four weeks apart, but the sub-committee plans to carry out injections three weeks apart. On the other hand, the AstraZeneca vaccines need to be injected 10-12 weeks apart.