A communicable disease expert has insisted the two COVID-19 vaccines currently available in Thailand are effective in terms of preventing severe illnesses, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.
Dr Tawee Chotpitayasunondh, a member of the National Communicable Disease Committee, has made a statement stressing the importance of vaccines in the fight against the pandemic, while outlining the process of approval for the emergency use of the vaccines.
He explained that all COVID-19 vaccines available have been authorized for emergency use, as the typical 5-10 years timeframe for vaccine development has been shortened for COVID-19 vaccines, thus these vaccines should be used with some caution.
In Thailand, vaccine recipients will be asked to follow up on any side effects 1, 7, and 30 days after receiving an injection. The country has so far given some 1.3 million jabs to the people, meaning around 1.7% of the population have now had at least one vaccine dose.
Two COVID-19 vaccines are currently being used in Thailand, with Sinovac’s being given to people 18-59 years, and AstraZeneca’s to people 60 years or older.
The main vaccination drive for Thai people will commence in June with the first batch of AstraZeneca’s vaccine produced domestically. Only people aged 60 years or older, and people with any of seven chronic illnesses will be given the vaccine in this initial phase.
People eligible for this phase can register as of this Saturday to receive the AstraZeneca’s vaccine in June, while younger people are asked to register in July.
The Chinese-made CoronaVac vaccine from Sinovac Biotech has received public criticism because of reports about its low efficacy, with data from a trial among healthcare workers in Brazil showing the vaccine has an efficacy of 50.39% 15 days after the second dose.
Thai authorities however, have been reassuring the general public that the vaccine is still effective in preventing severe illnesses and death from COVID-19.
Meanwhile, data from Sinovac’s study in Chile shows the vaccine was 67% effective in preventing symptomatic cases, and 80% effective in preventing deaths from COVID-19.
Meanwhile, a peer-reviewed medical journal The BMJ has published preliminary results from a large UK study, which indicates that infections of the COVID-19 virus fell by 65% after a first dose of AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine.
Thailand is planning to vaccinate 50 million people by the end of this year. The Prime Minister announced earlier this month that the government is in the process of securing Sputnik V and Pfizer’s jabs to complement the supplies from Sinovac and AstraZeneca.