By The Nation
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul announced on Monday that the vaccine will initially be tried out on Thais in their mid-60s, with the eventual target of covering at least 50 per cent of the population.
The Public Health Ministry is working on ensuring a sufficient supply of the vaccine by pre-booking through the World Health Organisation’s COVAX facility, using bilateral agreements or negotiating for technology transfer.
Thailand is also developing vaccines using seven codes, namely mRNA, DNA, viral-like particle, protein subunit, viral vector, as well as inactivated and live attenuated vaccination. There are nine agencies involved, including private and public universities.
So far, three studies based on mRNA, DNA and plant-based vaccine have entered the Phase 1 and 2 of clinical trials. It is difficult to conduct human trials domestically because Thailand does not have enough Covid-19 patients.
Dr Supakit Sirilak, the Public Health Ministry’s deputy permanent secretary, said approximately 65 million doses will have to be reserved if half of the population, or some 30 million people are to be vaccinated.
He added that some 40 per cent of the doses will be reserved with COVAX, 40 per cent with AstraZeneca and 20 per cent with other sources.
“Siam Bioscience has the potential to produce up to 200 million doses. Once the technology transfer agreement is signed, the Thai side will have to be trained on production processes. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is expected to pass Phase 3 testing and production should start in December. After that it needs to register with the FDA in the UK and Thailand, before we can start producing the vaccine mid next year,” said Nakorn Premsri, director of the National Vaccine Institute.
Meanwhile, the price of the vaccine has yet to be set clearly. Initially, COVAX priced each dose at US$10.55 (Bt329), but AstraZeneca has said its vaccines will be a lot cheaper.