Defense Spokesman Denies Soldiers Fly to US for mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines

A leaked photo spreading on social media showing soldiers at check-in counter at Suvarnabhumi Airport.

BANGKOK — Defense Ministry spokesman Maj Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich denies the ministry has any policy or privilege to fly soldiers to the United States to be vaccinated with mRNA vaccines.

The denial made on the phone Monday morning came after some accused a group of soldiers who have been pictured at Suvarnabhumi International Airport check-in counter of flying to the US. Koncheep said 114 army officers who left Thailand late last week were part of the annual Cobra Gold training exercise.

“They all have been vaccinated in Thailand and were quarantined upon arrival. None have been given [mRNA] jabs in the United States,” Kongcheep told Khaosod English on the phone Monday morning after the allegations spread online that soldiers were privileged and flew to the US for vaccines. The spokesman said the officers will be in the US until July 28. It comes as many Thais were calling for more effective vaccines, particularly mRNA to protect people against the delta variant of COVID-19.

“We can’t halt security work. Talking about privilege is demoralizing. The Minister has no policy for soldiers to fly to be vaccinated abroad, otherwise all soldiers would have gone. Please do not be biased. We help with putting down fires, with COVID-19 and some officers have become infected. It’s not fair. We have no such policy,” Koongcheep said.