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Government denies vaccine monopoly rumours

Government denies vaccine monopoly rumours

THAILAND: The government insists it has not barred private sector companies from ordering COVID-19 vaccines for commercial distribution in Thailand, saying that the actual problem is the shortage of vaccines in the global market.

ChineseCoronavirusCOVID-19healthVaccine
By Bangkok Post

Friday 9 April 2021, 08:52AM


Containers of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac are checked as they arrived in Surabaya in January. Photo: AFP.

Containers of the COVID-19 vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac are checked as they arrived in Surabaya in January. Photo: AFP.

There is a clear policy for companies that are able to source supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine, that if they do so, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be ready to issue them with a licence, deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said yeserday (Apr 8).

“The government has no problem at all with allowing private companies to import these vaccines, while the real problem is a global undersupply of vaccines,” she said.

She was responding to endless rumours that the government was monopolising COVID-19 vaccine imports while barring private companies interested in importing the vaccine for sale in the country from doing so.

These rumours have continued to mislead the public and have not disappeared despite government explanations about the issue on several occasions, she said.

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The fact is since all COVID-19 vaccines are only intended for emergency use now, the government, not vaccine producers, is solely responsible for any negative consequences of these vaccines, she said. And as COVID-19 vaccines are at this stage considered “public goods”, most countries only allow government agencies to handle the procurement, while not a single country has allowed the commercial distribution of any imported vaccines just yet, she said.

And before commercial distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is possible, the government will have to bring into place a mechanism to strictly regulate it to ensure quality and prevent problems such as fake vaccines, she said.

At present, three suppliers have successfully registered their COVID-19 vaccines for distribution in Thailand, namely China’s Sinovac Biotec, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, she said. Still pending registration with the FDA is Covaxin, India’s homegrown COVID-19 vaccine developed by Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech, she said.

The FDA is in talks with three other COVID-19 vaccine suppliers that wish to register their jabs here, which are the Moderna, Sputnik V and Sinopharm vaccines, from the US, Russia and China respectively, she said.

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