Sat, October 16, 2021


Thai health officials try to clear the air amid concern over China's Sinovac vaccine

Health officials organised a press conference to allay widespread concerns that China’s Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine, being imported into Thailand, is not effective enough to tackle the virus.

The concerns followed tests in Brazil by that country’s Butantan Institute, with results showing that Sinovac is only 50.4 per cent effective.

However, Thailand’s Department of Medical Sciences director-general Dr Supakit Sirilak maintained that a vaccinated group was able to prevent 78 per cent of infections and 100 per cent of severe symptoms.

“The advantage of the vaccine from China is that a dead virus is injected into the body to build immunity. This is considered primary technology, which is also used in hepatitis and polio vaccines. China injected its military personnel and thousands of medical staff with the vaccine and no serious side effects were found,” he said.

“We need to look at many other aspects too, such as quality, performance, price, quantity, delivery time and other qualifications that are suitable for Thailand,” Dr Supakit insisted.

“I want people to be confident that the Public Health Ministry will use a vaccine with recognised quality and without undesirable effects. WHO [the World Health Organisation] has declared that a vaccine efficacy of 50 per cent or more is applicable. So I would like to ask people to stop panicking.

“The Public Health Ministry has asked Sinovac for additional information. There is currently no impact on the Covid-19 vaccination plan,” he added.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deputy secretary-general Dr Surachok Tangwiwat said the FDA is responsible for examining drugs and vaccines for use in Thailand. These are first evaluated for quality, safety and efficiency.

Those wishing to register a drug or vaccine are required to provide information to experts in order to assess their qualifications and performance.

The FDA is now mobilising experts from all over the country to inspect and consider all aspects of a Covid-19 vaccine to make it available faster.

At present, two companies have applied to register their vaccines – AstraZeneca (Thailand), whose vaccine is in the evaluation process and expects approval soon, and Sinovac Biotech Company, which has the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation as a licensee for registration.

Another key issue is import. The importer must have evidence of purchasing the vaccine directly from the manufacturer to prevent any fakes creeping in and must take responsibility if there is a distribution problem.

Published : January 14, 2021

By : The Nation