TDRI report blames government blunders for worsening Covid situation

TUESDAY, JULY 13, 2021

The government’s errors in evaluating the situation and flawed decision-making is responsible for the latest Covid-19 wave and the worsening of the pandemic situation, the Thailand Development Research Institute (TDRI) said in a recently published report.

The TDRI was critiquing the performance of the Prayut Chan-o-cha government in the middle of its second term with focus on containing the outbreak and vaccine management.

The TDRI said that though Thailand was doing great in controlling the outbreak in the first wave (before December 2020), it had made some glaring blunders subsequently, which was responsible for the current situation.

From around 150th in the world for most number of cases a few months ago, Thailand has fallen to 60th.

“One of the government’s major erroneous decisions was to allow the Songkran holidays in 2021 without proper disease control measures for travellers, despite the third wave having already started in early April. This has led to the infections spreading to all regions of Thailand,” it said in the report.

“The government’s crisis management is also confusing,” it added. “It announced a lockdown in Bangkok on the night of June 26 while a day earlier the government had insisted that there would be no lockdown of the metropolitan areas.”

The TDRI pointed out that the Prayut government lacked proper situation evaluation, preparedness and rehabilitation plans for affected people. This was reflected in abrupt measures in locking down construction sites and shutting down restaurants with no clear assistance measures.

The report also faulted the administration's vaccine policy.

“The government’s vaccine management plan is also a mistake, as it relies heavily on the domestically produced AstraZeneca vaccine,” said TDRI. “Also, the government should have branched out to several manufacturers from the start to procure a variety of vaccines instead of focusing on obtaining only Sinovac, which later proved to be significantly less effective than others in preventing infections.”

The institute suggested that a special independent committee be formed to investigate and analyse the mistakes in handling the Covid-19 situation to learn from them and avoid repeating the same mistakes in the future.

“The committee should work in the similar fashion as Bank of Thailand’s financial and economic study committee that had been established after the Tom Yum Kung financial crisis in 1997 to learn from the mistakes and improve the country’s economic stability,” it added.