Gov’t to Spend Nearly 3 Bil. Baht to Reserve Coronavirus Vaccines

A researcher shows a vial of the prototype COVID-19 vaccine developed by Thai scientists.
A researcher shows a vial of the prototype COVID-19 vaccine developed by Thai scientists.

BANGKOK — The government is placing a reservation for coronavirus vaccines in order to procure them as soon as they are available, a health official said Monday.

National Vaccine Institute director Nakorn Premsri told reporters that a fund of 2.9 billion baht will be solely spent on an advance purchase order for the 60 million doses of the vaccine. It will cost another 20 billion to actually buy them.

“We have to reserve the vaccines in order to make them available in Thailand by 2021,” Nakorn said. “The budget we proposed is only what we agreed on principle since we don’t know the exact price of the vaccine yet.”

Nakorn said the doses are expected to cover 50 percent of the country’s population, or about 33 million people. The institute is negotiating with worldwide pharmaceutical companies to strike a deal by the end of October before submitting the plan to the Cabinet, he added.

He did not disclose the names of the companies under negotiation.

Thailand’s research into COVID-19 vaccine is also expected to begin human trials in January. The progress was delayed from the original plan in October due to the limited production capacity at overseas factories, Nakorn said.

The government had allocated a 1 billion baht fund for the National Vaccine Institute to support domestic development and production of vaccines against COVID-19 in August.

At least five vaccines prototypes are being developed domestically by different health institutions, according to the technology ministry.