Thailand prepares 6 million Covid-19 shots for the first month of mass vaccine roll-out

BANGKOK (BLOOMBERG) – Thailand aims to administer as many as six million shots to protect against Covid-19 this month, as it begins a mass vaccination programme amid the nation’s worst coronavirus outbreak since the pandemic began.

The government plans to distribute about two million doses from AstraZeneca and Sinovac Biotech to vaccination sites across Thailand ahead of the June 7 roll-out, according to Mr Sopon Iamsirithawon, a deputy director-general at the Department of Disease Control.

As many as six million shots will be available in June, with a target capacity of about 500,000 inoculations a day, he said.

The South-east Asian nation’s economy may not return to pre-pandemic growth levels until early 2023, three fiscal quarters later than previously expected, the Bank of Thailand warned on Monday (May 31).

A surge in coronavirus cases since early April has seen deaths from infections soar more than tenfold and triggered restrictions across the country. The government on Tuesday approved an additional US$4.5 billion (S$6 billion) of stimulus to counter the economic and social impacts of the pandemic.

“Thailand is currently in the same situation as most countries in the world: many people to vaccinate and limited vaccines with which to do it,” said Dr Daniel Kertesz, the World Health Organisation’s representative to Thailand.

“The ultimate goal would be to vaccinate everyone who’s eligible, but it’s not possible in the short term, so the really important lesson is that prioritising will be key to success.”

A target of administering 100 million shots to cover about 70 per cent of the population by the end of the year compares with coverage of less than than 3 per cent in the past three months.

The distribution of millions of shots each month from June will allow expansion of the inoculation programme to prioritise residents of Bangkok, the epicentre of the surge in cases.

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