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Siam Bioscience breaks silence on vaccine deal after Thanathorn criticism


Siam Bioscience on Monday released a statement following criticism by Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit over its role in Thailand’s Covid-19 vaccine programme.

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Last Monday Thanathorn slammed the government for slowness in providing vaccines, and questioned the transparency of giving a company owned by the Crown Property Bureau – Siam Bioscience – the right to manufacture the AstraZeneca vaccine locally. Thanathorn alleged documents show there was no selection process or comparison made between companies before Siam Bioscience was handed the task. Last Wednesday, the government filed a charge of lese majeste against Thanathorn over his comments.

On Monday, Siam Bioscience clarified steps that led to the deal, though did not respond directly to Thanathorn’s allegations.

“In October 2020 Siam Bioscience, SCG [Siam Cement Group], AstraZeneca and the Public Health Ministry signed a Letter of Intent to demonstrate their joint commitment to make this vaccine available in Southeast Asia,” said the company statement. “This was followed by a contract manufacturing agreement between AstraZeneca and Siam Bioscience. This agreement also signifies that Siam Bioscience met AstraZeneca’s high technical, operational and ethical standards. Through technology transfer from AstraZeneca, Siam Bioscience is now part of AstraZeneca’s worldwide network of vaccine manufacturing partners.”

Siam Bioscience also outlined its relevant experience:

“AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine is a modified adenoviral vector grown in mammalian cells. Siam Bioscience has experience with manufacturing and exporting products that use such mammalian cell technology. Our facilities comply with multiple international standards, provide an integrated solution for every step of the process and, as the largest biopharmaceutical manufacturer in Thailand, we have the potential to expand our capacity in the future.”

The company said it was manufacturing the vaccine under a “no profit, no loss” policy for the duration of the pandemic, in line with AstraZeneca’s own commitment.

“The mission to manufacture Covid-19 vaccine is supported by the National Vaccine Institute, Public Health Ministry with a budget of almost Bt600 million, and an additional Bt100 million budget from Siam Cement Group in order to prepare the facilities for manufacturing AstraZeneca vaccine as soon as possible.”

Related story: Siam Bioscience HQ hit with protest over vaccine deal

Published : January 25, 2021

By : THE NATION