Pfizer and Moderna, US pharmaceutical companies, recently announced their experimental vaccines against the virus were about 95% effective. Some countries have already begun to preorder the vaccines despite challenges in maintaining low temperatures during transport.
Dr Kiat Ruxrungtham, director of COVID-19 vaccine research and development project of the Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, said Pfizer and Moderna are likely to be the first in succeeding in producing vaccines. However, Thailand may not be able to acquire a batch as the US and Japan have preordered 300 million and 120 million doses, respectively.
Dr Kiat said 11 other pharmaceutical companies are developing COVID-19 vaccines that can be distributed at a large scale. Also, Thai researchers are preparing to have their vaccines commence human trials in April.
However, Dr Kiat raised concerns that BioNet-Asia Co’s jab may be lagging behind due to the short supply of vaccine precursors, as many have been bought by other big companies and a shortage of funds.
A team has been testing Cu-Cov19, an mRNA vaccine, on macaques at Chulalongkorn University’s National Primate Research Centre in Saraburi. BioNet-Asia is the centre’s partner.
He said the project has not had sufficient funding from the government, but the state is finding ways to preorder COVID-19 vaccines from Covax, a company working with the World Health Organization and cooperating with AstraZeneca and Oxford University.
Anutin Charnvirakul, Public Health Minister, said the budget for Thailand to acquire vaccines is B6 billion, a cost that covers operations, tubes and syringes. He said imported vaccines will only come in bottles.