TDRI urges govt to prioritise procurement of high-quality vaccines


The Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) has said the country is far from ready to be reopened in 120 days as previously stated by the prime minister.

In an article titled “Investing in Public Health”, published on Tuesday, the TDRI suggested that the focus should be on restoring public health back to normal as swiftly and effectively as possible, in order to resume normal economic activity.

The article was written by TDRI director Saowaruj Rattanakhamfu.
The article said that the government’s tardy management is damaging citizens’ lives and the economy. The country is losing more than THB1.5 billion every month in the tourism sector alone.

Compared to the UK, Israel and Singapore, which have been reopened due to the easing of the pandemic situation, Thailand is still far from returning to normal.
As only 21.9 per cent of the population had got the first vaccine dose, and as many had received Sinovac which is not considered as having high efficacy, Saowaruj said it would be impossible to reopen the country in October as announced by the government.

The TDRI has made the following suggestions:

  1. The government needs to promptly invest in high-quality vaccines, including Favipiravir medication, and transparently inoculate the right target groups.
  2. As the vaccine procurement process is slow, the government should predominantly invest in proactive virus testing. More virus testing points should be set up and antigen test kits should be distributed to business establishments, especially to small and medium-sized enterprises and businesses whose staff are not able to work from home.
  3. Isolate and treat infected patients as soon as possible, especially homeless people and those who live in crowded communities.
  4. Increase compensation for frontline personnel, and provide risk prevention measures for them and their families. Distribution of high-quality vaccine should be the top priority.
  5. Increase the number of staff and volunteers to treat patients who practice isolation at home or at community isolation centres.

Regarding the funding required to implement these five suggestions, Saowaruj said the government can allocate some money from the THB500 billion Royal Decree Loan which was recently released, and from the central budget for fiscal year 2021-22.

“By allocating the money from these sources, the government should be able to find approximately THB1.34 billion in order to bring Thailand back to normal,” said Saowaruj.