The minister gave an interview to the press after meeting representatives of Sinopharm, a Chinese COVID-19 vaccine producer, yesterday (Apr 30).
He said the government had not yet entered into negotiations with the vaccine producer, adding the negotiation process normally started after vaccine producers submitted documents to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Mr Anutin insisted that the ministry was ready to register all COVID-19 vaccines produced and that the government had never prevented the registration of any COVID-19 vaccine.
The government is trying to make Sinovac and AstraZeneca submit their vaccine delivery timelines.
Vaccine producers have not been able to sell a huge amount of vaccines to Thailand due to changing demand in their respective countries, he said.
On whether people will get to choose the vaccine they want, Mr Anutin said which one they receive will depend on each vaccine’s suitability for different groups of people.
The Pfizer vaccine, which had been tested with children aged 12 years and older, would be given to children aged 12–18 years, he said.
As for the Sinovac vaccine whose second dose is offered only three weeks after the first, it will be given to medical workers, frontline workers and immigration officers, according to the minister.
“Everyone will receive the vaccine that can immunise and save them equally. I can assure you that every COVID-19 vaccine in Thailand is inspected by a vaccine safety committee,” said Mr Anutin.
More Sinovac on the way
Anutin’s comments came after the head of the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) confirmed Thailand will receive another 3.5 million doses of the Sinovac Biotech coronavirus vaccine in May.
One million doses will arrive on May 6 and 2 million more are due by the end of May, Witoon Danwiboon said at a briefing yesterday.
An additional 500,000 doses would be donated by the Chinese government, he said at a briefing.
The latest coronavirus outbreak, which includes the highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant, has accounted for about half of the country’s overall cases and deaths since the pandemic, with 36,290 infections and 109 fatalities in April alone.
Health authorities reported 1,583 new cases and 15 more deaths yesterday and said 250 patients were on ventilators.
Meanwhile, US-based Moderna is seeking to register its COVID-19 vaccine in Thailand.
FDA Secretary-General Paisal Dunkhum said yesterday that Zuellig Pharma Ltd had submitted documents to register the vaccine, adding the FDA will look to endorse the registration request as soon as possible.
If approved, this COVID-19 vaccine will become the third approved by the FDA to be distributed here.