Thailand to stop using Sinovac vaccine when current stock runs out

BANGKOK Thailand will stop using China's Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine when its current stock is exhausted, a senior official said yesterday, having used it extensively in combination with Western-developed vaccines.

Thailand has used over 31.5 million Sinovac doses since starting in February with two shots for front-line workers, high-risk groups and residents of Phuket, a holiday island that reopened to tourists early in a pilot scheme.

In July, Thailand started inoculating people with a first dose of Sinovac, followed by one of the Oxford University-developed AstraZeneca. Thailand was the first country to combine Chinese and Western vaccines, a strategy its health officials said has proven effective.

"We expect to have distributed all Sinovac doses this week," said health official Opas Karnkawinpong, adding the programme will switch to combining the AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines.

Thailand next year plans to buy 120 million Covid-19 vaccine doses, and has already booked 60 million doses of AstraZeneca, a vaccine it manufactures locally.

It has so far vaccinated 36 per cent of the population and hopes to reach 70 per cent by year-end.

The country is forging ahead with a quarantine-free reopening plan next month of 17 provinces to vaccinated arrivals from low-risk countries. Included will be destinations like Pattaya, Hua Hin, Chiang Mai and Bangkok.

Thailand has recorded nearly 1.8 million cases and 18,336 fatalities overall, more than 98 per cent in the past seven months. - REUTERS