The results of the independent study, Dr Sophon said, should dispel any remaining doubts about the safety of Sinovac jabs for senior citizens, which stemmed from a lack of empirical data for the age group after the vaccine was rolled out.
Dr Sophon said many have received Sinovac jabs across the world and the vaccine was found to be safe.
The study found the company’s vaccine, which uses culture-grown virus particles to stimulate the body’s immune response, is effective and safe, which is reassuring, he added.
Responding to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) previous statements regarding Sinovac’s vaccine, Dr Sophon urged the public to not cling on to old information.
The WHO had earlier said that an independent assessment of Sinovac jabs showed the vaccine poses a low risk of serious adverse effects for adults over 60.
The same study, however, backed Sinovac’s claims that two doses of the jabs can effectively and safely prevent virus transmission in other age groups.
The AstraZeneca vaccine, which will be ready in about a month, will ultimately be the primary COVID-19 vaccine for individuals over the age of 60. AstraZeneca has been the vaccine of choice for senior citizens in Thailand, although the lack of supplies has prompted a switch to Sinovac.
Last Friday, the national communicable diseases committee approved the use of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine for people over 60.
Dr Sophon said all vaccines have a chance of causing negative side-effects, although the likelihoods are very slim, before assuring the government has a plan in place in case senior citizens vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine develop unwanted side-effects.
Thailand has imported 3.5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Sinovac to date. A further 500,000 doses donated by China will arrive this week, while the two million bought by the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation will be delivered later this month.
Meanwhile, Anusorn Tamajai, former dean of the Faculty of Economics at Rangsit University, said the government should offer B8-12 million to each family whose member is proven to have died after being vaccinated against COVID-19.
The scheme will boost people’s confidence in the vaccine, he said, adding public health workers should be paid more for their hard work, sacrifice and danger they face from the virus.