Wissanu said the royal college, a scientific research institute, had legal authority to issue announcements to import vaccines, drugs and medical equipment.
However, any purchase of vaccine must abide by Thai law and be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Public Health Ministry, he said. The college would also halt the importation of vaccine once there was sufficient supply in the country, he added.
The college said it would reveal plans to import Sinopharm vaccine tomorrow (Friday).
Asked if the college’s move would duplicate the Public Health Ministry’s ongoing procurement process, Wissanu said it was just another way of securing vaccine doses. The private sector and others could do the same by asking permission from the government, he added.
Any vaccine procured by the Royal College must have been approved for use in Thailand by the FDA.
The FDA has approved AstraZeneca, Chinese-made Sinovac, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines. It is currently considering applications for China’s Sinopharm, Russia’s Sputnik V and India’s Covaxin brands.
When asked if other medical institutions like Chulalongkorn Hospital, Thammasat University Hospital and the Thai Red Cross could also procure Covid-19 vaccine, Wissanu said all government agencies were free to procure their own doses. However, the college does not qualify on these grounds and so had to gain authorisation in the same way as private operators like Bumrungrad Hospital, who are also seeking to import vaccine, he said.
Wissanu insisted the FDA retained its authority to ban any unauthorised vaccine imports and said it would not be influenced by any power plays.
Published : May 27, 2021
By : The Nation