Sun, December 05, 2021

in-focus

Local production of AstraZeneca vaccine kicks off, Thailand signs up for 2 million doses from Chinese firm


The Public Health Ministry said on Sunday the production of Covid-19 vaccines under the technology transfer deal signed with AstraZeneca/Oxford University has kicked off, with the first batch expected to be ready by May.

The ministry has also ordered 2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine made by Chinese manufacturer Sinovac, even though it has not yet won the “Phase 3” status. The vaccine will be delivered in three batches – some 200,000 doses arriving in late February, 800,000 in late March and 1 million by late April.

Thailand is racing to curb the spread of a new wave of local infections, now that the number of Covid-19 cases in the country has gone beyond 8,000 cases.

Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the Department of Medical Science, said it is important to ensure all vaccines have undergone quality and safety control measures, adding that vaccines that have not completed the Phase 3 round of testing will not be brought into the country.

He also said that private firms selling the vaccine must register with Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration, and most importantly certified by the Department of Medical Sciences.

Meanwhile, the Public Health Ministry expects to have at least 50 per cent of the population vaccinated this year, with the first batch of the 26 million doses bought from AstraZeneca expected to be delivered in May.

Under the technology-transfer deal with AstraZeneca, 200 million doses of the vaccine will be produced by Siam BioScience.

The government is also negotiating the purchase of vaccines from other manufacturers, including Pfizer, Moderna and Chinese companies, or may sign up for more vaccines from AstraZeneca.

Four types of Covid-19 vaccines that have been approved by the US FDA’s emergency use authorisation (EUA) – viral vector, mRNA, inactivated and protein subunit, said Dr Nakhon Premsri, director of the National Vaccine Institute (NVI).

So far, only vaccines produced by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have been approved, while the rest, including the ones being produced in China and Russia, have not reached Phase 3 of testing.

“The number of vaccines is limited. Every company is expanding its production capacity to cover the global population. When vaccines are used on large swathes of the population, the chance of side effects increases substantially,” Dr Nakhon said.

Separately, Dr Songpon Deechongkit, managing director of Siam Bioscience, said the company received knowledge and technology from AstraZeneca in October last year. Since then Siam Bioscience has been making preparations and should be able to produce some 200 million doses yearly or about 15 million to 20 million doses per month.

Published : January 04, 2021

By : The Nation