A medical staff member administers a dose of the CoronaVac vaccine to a resident of the Klong Toey community, one of the areas with the highest number of Covid-19 infections in the Thai capital, outside an indoor football stadium in Bangkok on May 11, 2021. Photo: AFP / Lillian Suwanrumpha

With reference to your article Thailand fast spinning out of Covid-19 control published on May 13, 2021, I feel compelled to set the record straight as follows. 

The article’s claim that AstraZeneca has chosen Siam Bioscience to produce its vaccine was based on “unknown reasons” is false. Many companies in Thailand participated in the bidding process but Siam Bioscience was the successful bidder because of its capability for the transfer of viral vector vaccine manufacturing technology and its capacity to produce over 200 million doses per year.

The joint venture is founded upon the “no profit, no loss” principle as part of the global endeavor to make Covid-19 vaccines global public goods, for which Thailand was the selected regional distribution hub. 

Thailand has a clear national Covid-19 vaccination plan to inoculate at least 50 million people by the end of 2021. The government has already secured 63 million doses of vaccines and has been in touch with several countries and pharmaceutical companies to procure another 87 million doses from now until next year.

Contrary to the article’s insinuation of protectionism, Thailand welcomes vaccine registration applications from every company, with Moderna receiving the latest approval for public use from the Food and Drug Administration. Other vaccines are in the process of registration for approval. 

The government has always tried to strike a balance between protecting public health and sustaining the economy. Any lockdown, if necessary, will be based on the said consideration and the prevailing situation. In addition, it has tightened border patrols to prevent the flow of potential viral variants while the outbreaks in penitentiaries countrywide have been put under a bubble-and-seal strategy. 

In the midst of a global pandemic, the media have the moral and professional obligation to present factual information to their readers so that the general public can make an informed decision and not be put at further risk or panic. The above-mentioned article is clearly lacking in these aspects. 

Tanee Sangrat

Tanee Sangrat is spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand.