Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha, has ordered Secretary-General of the National Security Council (NSC), Gen. Nattaphon Narkphanit, as Director of the Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration’s (CCSA) Operations Center; the Department of Disease Control, and Governor of Bangkok, Pol. Gen. Aswin Kwanmuang, to hold a joint press conference to clarify issues related to COVID-19 vaccine availability to the general public.
Director-General of the Department of Disease Control, Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong, said today the Ministry of Public Health has been working in accordance with the government’s policy of providing COVID-19 vaccine doses to at least 50 million people, or 70 percent of the Thai population, so as to achieve herd immunity by the end of this year. So far, the government has acquired 8.1 million doses, 2.1 million of which are the AstraZeneca vaccine, while 6 million others are the Sinovac vaccine.
Currently, 6,188,124 vaccine doses have been administered in the country, with Bangkok having administered most doses at 1,716,394 doses, or 27.7 percent of the total. The doses have been given to different groups, including teachers, public transport drivers and workers, to help drive the economy.
This month, there have been at least two rounds of vaccine distribution. From June 7 to 20, some 3 million doses are being distributed nationwide. In Bangkok, Social Security offices have received 300,000 doses and 11 universities have received 150,000 doses. Some 1.1 million doses have been delivered to 76 provinces under the Mohpromt system. More doses are being prepared to deal with the outbreak.
In the second round, from June 21 to July 2, the government is to deliver 3.5 million more doses, to meet the target of distributing 6 million doses in June.
Pol. Gen. Aswin said the Ministry of Public Health delivered 500,000 doses to the BMA from June 7 to 14, 350,000 of which are the AstraZeneca vaccine. Some 182,000 doses are for people who registered via the Mohpromt platform, 52,000 doses are for those receiving their second shot, and 8,000 doses are for bedridden patients and elderly citizens in Bangkok. About 100,000 vaccine doses are for people who registered for a vaccination via the Thai Ruam Jai, Krungthep Plodpai (Thais United, Safe Bangkok) system. A portion of the vaccine is reserved. As for the Sinovac vaccine, 126,000 out of 150,000 doses are being administered. Another 240,000 doses are to be used for disease control and in emergencies.
Gen. Nattaphon insisted that this month’s plan to administer 6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses remains on track. Concerning the objective to inoculate 50 million people this year, the government is acquiring 8 million Sinovac doses, 61 million AstraZeneca doses, 20 million Pfizer doses and 5 million Johnson & Johnson doses. Because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is a single-shot vaccine, 5 million doses are equivalent to 10 million doses. As a result, the government is to have 99 million doses in total.
Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister, Anutin Charnvirakul said he had asked the BMA and the Department of Disease Control to provide details on ways to prevent issues of communication, as private hospitals may post their information on social media without checking with the BMA. This may lead to confusion, and the issue is being addressed.
Gen. Prayut said that there is political meddling in the issue of COVID-19, with efforts both to build awareness and distort facts. However, he respects both the government and the opposition, and will do his best to address problems and acquire more vaccines up until next year.