Thailand is set to receive its first coronavirus vaccines in February from China’s Sinovac Biotech as the Southeast Asian country tries to curtail its worst coronavirus outbreak yet.
Thailand, which is aiming to inoculate at least half of its 70 million people, will received delivery of 200,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine net month, Prime Minister Prayuth Cha-o-cha said on Monday. It has, in total, ordered two million doses.
“I have given the direction on the vaccine and expect that within one to two months we will receive the first lot for medical professionals for about 200,000 doses,” PM Prayut said, according to a Twitter posting by his office.
The news, which gives hope to Thai people, comes as Thailand reported its largest single-day increase in infections with 745 cases on Monday – most of the new infections are migrant workers. The prime minister has urged people to stay at home and to limit outdoor activities to help curb the spread of the virus.
Thailand has yet to impose another nationwide lockdown.
As of Monday, the country has already nearly 8,500 coronavirus infections, half of which are still active. Thailand’s coronavirus death toll is at 61.
After its first shipment, Sinovac will supply another 800,000 doses of vaccine to Thailand in March, and then another one million by April.
The country signed an agreement to get 26 million doses of the AstraZenenca vaccine, which will be produced by its local firm, Siam Bioscience. The first batch of the vaccines will be ready by May.
Thai Food and Drug Administration will approve all locally produced vaccines.
Thailand vowed to distribute the locally produced vaccines to its neighboring countries such as Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar for much cheaper prices. The firm will be able to produce 200 million doses per year.
Private sectors in the country are welcome to participate in the vaccine production and distribution, if they get approved by the Thai FDA.