Anutin addresses Thanathorn’s charges over vaccine procurement with Facebook post
In response to doubts raised about the government’s Covid-19 vaccination plan, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said in a Facebook post that the government has carefully considered every decision and was not careless as claimed by Progressive Movement leader Thanathorn Juangroongruangkit.
In a Facebook Live session on January 18, Thanathorn accused the government of being careless over negotiations for the vaccine, pointing out that discussions with AstraZeneca were only completed in October last year.
He also pointed out that the 26 million doses purchased from AstraZeneca and the 2 million from China’s Sinovac would only immunise 21.5 per cent of the population.
Thanathorn also raised concerns over transparency in the government’s decision to hand the job of local production of the vaccine to Siam Bioscience, which is owned by the King.
In response to the accusation of procuring an insufficient number of doses, Anutin said the law prohibits the government to purchase a product that has not been produced. Besides, he said, if the government paid for the vaccine in advance, it would not have been refunded in case the vaccine failed.
He added that the AstraZeneca vaccine was chosen not only because it is cheap, but also because it is more suitable for use in Thailand compared to vaccines produced by other companies.
Moreover, he said, it was AstraZeneca that chose Siam Bioscience to manufacture its products, adding that the government had no intention to only focus on a few vaccine producers.
He also said in the first phase, the government purchased 26 million doses from AstraZeneca and another 2 million from Sinovac under the advice of the national vaccine committee.
He said the committee believed the situation in Thailand was not as severe as in other countries, so the government need not purchase a huge number of doses. Besides, he said, the National Vaccine Institute has booked another 35 million doses from AstraZeneca.
“The 63 million doses should cover some 31.5 million people, or 63 per cent of the country’s population, not including pregnant women and those under 18, which will be enough to immunise the entire country,” he said.
The minister also pointed out that the inoculations will not bring life back to normal right away, adding that it was just a tool to control the virus and prevent severe cases.
The minister concluded his post by thanking Thanathorn for paying attention to the government’s work.