So far Thailand has received 6 million doses of Coronavac, the Chinese-manufactured COVID-19 vaccine from Sinovac. A delivery of 1.5 million doses was received yesterday and a further 3 million are expected to arrive next month, explained a report by Associated Press.
Of that total, 500,000 doses were recently donated by the Chinese government on the understanding Chinese nationals based in the Kingdom would be the first overseas citizens to receive the inoculation as part of what Beijing has termed their “Spring Sprout” program.
Over 500,000 Chinese nationals based in more than 120 countries have so far benefited from the program since its launch in March, according to the Chinese People’s Daily newspaper.
It is estimated 150,000 Chinese citizens currently live in Thailand, the highest number of any nationality who are not from the neighbouring countries of Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. Chinese are the only foreigners being vaccinated under the “Spring Sprout” campaign.
Foreigners based in Thailand from elsewhere such as Australia, Europe, the US and Japan number around 200,000 and are mainly professionals and retirees. Currently the only way they can access COVID-19 vaccine is by travelling overseas which would incur a lengthy and expensive quarantine on their return to the Kingdom.
The “Spring Sprout” campaign in Thailand began in downtown Bangkok yesterday at a designated vaccination centre with a banner outside reading “Spring Sprout Action”.
Chinese national Zhang Xiaohong, 40, was one of the first to receive the jab.
“I am happy and proud to be able to get a vaccine on day 1 organized by my government,” said the logistics company owner, adding he believes the Chinese government cares about its people.
Another Chinese, 39-year-old real estate broker Qin Qing, proclaimed: “I am grateful for my country and the embassy, and people who help to make it happen, from airline staff who fly the vaccines here to Thai medical workers.”
The Thai government had vowed to inoculate its own citizens before turning attention to foreigners residing in the country although this development may seem to have jepordised that pledge.
The government has been lambasted for its seemingly slow and protracted approach to a steadfast vaccination rollout policy that has so far seen only just over 2% of its 70 million people receive a first jab and 1% a second.
The recent third wave that hit the country last month has seen non-official lockdowns introduced where a raft of confusing restrictions have severely affected business, the economy and any hopes of tangible progress.
Health authorities yesterday reported 2,636 new cases and 25 deaths for a total of 119,585 infections and 703 deaths since the pandemic began. Of that number, 90,722 confirmed cases and 609 deaths have been recorded since April 1.