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Phuket private sector makes plea to buy own vaccines

Phuket private sector makes plea to buy own vaccines

PHUKET: Leading figures from Phuket’s tourism and other industries have made a united plea for the national government to allow private businesses and even local municipalities on the island to buy their own vaccine doses to ensure that Phuket will be allowed to re-open to receive international tourists under the ‘Phuket Sandbox’ model on July 1.

By The Phuket News

Thursday 29 April 2021, 06:06PM

Leading Phuket business figures Sarayuth Mallam (left) and Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, President of the Phuket Tourist Association, speaking at the mass vaccination of residents underway at Saphan Hin earlier this month.Photo: PR Phuket

Leading Phuket business figures Sarayuth Mallam (left) and Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, President of the Phuket Tourist Association, speaking at the mass vaccination of residents underway at Saphan Hin earlier this month.Photo: PR Phuket

Under the Sandbox’ model, fully vaccinated tourists would be allowed to enter Phuket without observing any period of quarantine.

A critical requirement to the policy is that 70% of the island’s population must be vaccinated for COVID-19 before the national government will give its approval.

However, the ongoing spate of infections throughout the country have placed the July 1 deadline in jeopardy, with leading Phuket figures now saying that the vaccine doses initially promised to Phuket to make the July 1 deadline possible may now be allocated elsewhere to counter the rising number of infections.

Bhummikitti Ruktaengam, President of Phuket Tourist Association, said, “Even though the Phuket Tourism Sandbox model has been approved, this current outbreak is affecting the distribution of vaccine doses to Phuket. The doses of vaccine that were supposed to be sent to Phuket are being provided to other areas to control the outbreak.

“Phuket people understand the necessity, but the Phuket Tourism Sandbox [re-opening of tourism] is also important for Thailand, so today Phuket’s private sector asks the national government for approval to purchase vaccines by ourselves to be able to welcome foreign tourists as we have planned,” he said.

“We have been struggling in this crisis for a year. If the limited number of vaccine doses can really control the outbreak in other provinces in need, we are happy that the government provides the vaccine to help them.

“We just want the government to approve and facilitate us to purchase vaccines by ourselves. The vaccine will be bought by the budget from our own private sector and local administrative organisations, in order to provide to our people and carry on our strategy for the country,” he added.

Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, President of the Thailand Hotels Association Southern chapter, said tour operators were already expressing their interest to resume limited flights to Phuket, and highlighted the need for Thailand to uphold its message to the world the Phuket will re-open on July 1.

 “We want to show the world our efforts and the achievement of Phuket as a pilot area for Thailand to welcome foreign tourists without quarantine. Right now, we have been contacted by foreign tour operators in many countries, and they have shown interest in sending their customers to Phuket, especially operators in Germany,” he explained.

“A big German company informed us that they plan to have two chartered flights per week to Phuket, starting Oct 10, while companies in Scandinavian countries have asked us for clarity about the documents needed and the conditions [to be met] to travel to Phuket. We have announced to the world about our plan to re-open, and we must make it happen,” Mr Kongsak said.

Joining the call for Phuket private operators and local government administrations to purchase their own vaccines to inoculate people in the own areas were Thanet Tantipiriyakij, Acting President of the Phuket Tourism Council, along with Chernporn Karnjanasaya, President of the Federation of Phuket Industries, and Thanusak Phungdet, President of the Phuket Chamber of Commerce.

Mr Thanet pointed out that Phuket business operators had first asked for permission to buy their own vaccines in January, but pointed out that the Ministry of Public Health “had sent us a negative sign of vaccine distribution”.

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Mr Thanusak pointed out that many municipalities across the island had months ago set aside the budget required to buy their own vaccines, including Phuket City Municipality and Patong Municipality.

“We have contacted the local administrative organisations that had shown their own initiative to buy vaccines for people in their areas, as well as the Thai representatives of foreign vaccine-producing companies to buy their vaccines. We have worked under pressure to deliver the promise we made to our people,” he said.

“We are sure that if the governor gives us a green light and a special path, we will be able to reopen the island as we have planned,” Mr Thansuak added.

Mr Bhummikitti said that Phuket had already made great strides to vaccinate the island’s residents to make the July 1 plan work.

“We respect and understand what the government is doing for our people’s health safety as a priority. If the vaccines really need to be provided somewhere else to control the outbreak, then the government should have done this [allowed private purchase of vaccines] when we asked for it,” he said.

“Phuket has come too far to stop or step back. The 200,000 doses that we have used to vaccinate our people must not be wasted. We need to move forward with our momentum and to accomplish our goal together.”

The plea in Phuket for private sector operators to buy their own vaccines came as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha yesterday (Apr 28) promised close collaboration with the private sector to speed up the vaccine rollout and achieve the target of inoculating 50 million people by year’s end.

It also follows the Thai Food & Drug Administration approving the Johnson & Johnson vaccine as fit for use in Thailand on Mar 25.

However,  reasons not made public the vaccine has yet to become publicly available.

Meanwhile, the national government continues to promote advances made in the ability of Siam Bioscience to locally produce the AstraZeneca vaccine under licence.

The entire national government mass-vaccination campaign relies on just two vaccines: the AstraZeneca vaccine and the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine ‘CoronaVac’.

The national government has faced harsh criticism for its slow rollout of the mass-vaccination campaign, which has so far managed to inoculate just over 4% of the national population.

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skip | 01 May 2021 - 12:30:15

covid restrictions more than likely will never be lifted and their actions and words promote confirmation of this. Vexed or Unvexed...still the PCR tests apply, masks apply, distancing applies,  mandatory phone tracing apps apply, restricted travel applies, lockdowns apply, business closures apply thus causing poverty and deaths. the banksters are currently winning and daylight is coming second.

Christy Sweet | 30 April 2021 - 13:52:18

Gosh, whatever could it be that has certain authorities wanting to middle-man every vial that is administered? mmmm What a mystery, so puzzling. 

Kurt | 30 April 2021 - 10:39:53

Sinovac, as it is quality wise inferior to all other vaccines ( just 50% protection, how long?)not approved by USA and EU FDA's, is cheap to buy by Thai Government from China. If it more expensive while administering, than it shows something , money wise. A open window happening..

Kurt | 30 April 2021 - 10:20:29

@ Fascinated, AZ needs 2 jabs + vaccination administration. J&J needs 1 jab, no administation for 2nd time vaccinating needed.  It looks likes the 'apples and oranges' at the end cost almost the same.

Kurt | 30 April 2021 - 10:02:58

Will be interesting to see or the private sector can buy/offer the quality vaccines cheaper than the Government does. If the Government allows that. 

Kurt | 30 April 2021 - 09:13:01

That 70% vaccination norm in relation with 'herd immunity' is totally just wishful thinking, but absolutely not proven as being true. But on paper it looks nice.

DeKaaskopp | 30 April 2021 - 08:58:06

"Sinovac is significantly more expensive" Correct Fascinated. Surprised that Mr.Kurt ,who usually knows everything so well, doesn't know it,as he constantly try to tell that Sinovac is distributed here because it would be so cheap ! Just another example that most of the time he doesn't know what he talks about .

LALALA | 30 April 2021 - 07:27:11

Simply say goodbye for tourism for a long long time. Thailands tourism industry is finished, as simple as I love it.

Fascinated | 29 April 2021 - 22:52:08

Is it realistic for local authorities to purchase them. A quick check on the net shows Az to be between 2- 4 USD (60-120 baht), J&J USD 10 and. Its not a great amount of money in the great scheme of things. No doubt the private hospitals would add at least one zero to these figures in the name of profit if they could obtain them. SINOVAC is significantly more expensive.


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