BANGKOK — The government said it will administer up to 1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines per day from Friday onward, in honor of King Rama X’s grandfather.
Friday, or Sept. 24, marks this year’s Mahidol Day. The occasion celebrates the life of Prince Mahidol, who worked as a doctor prior to his death in 1929. The government also declared it a special public holiday for 2021.
Department of Disease Control director Opas Karnkawinpong said the initiative is intended to speed up the reopening efforts and revive the economy, just in time before the high tourism season of November and December.
The number of doses administered daily has fallen short of the government’s goal due to production delays and shortage of supplies. On some days, as many as 900,000 doses were given out, while on days they were as low as 180,000 shots.
Less than half of the population received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, or 43.7 percent, according to data published on Sunday. Opas said the health authorities are planning to fix that. He said they want to have at least 50 percent of the national population vaccinated with one dose by the end of September.
According to the government, only 37 percent of Bangkok residents have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as of Thursday. As many as 90 percent of the capital city’s population has received at least one dose so far.
The main vaccine to be used in the drive is the shots produced by Sinovac and AstraZeneca, Opas said.
Phuket Sees Virus Surge
Some communities are said to be struggling with the high infection rates in recent days, a development that could threaten the “Phuket Sandbox” program.
Local government is organizing mass testing in the southern island. Provincial chief health officer Kusak Kukiattikun said the COVID response teams will use antigen test kits in an active case-finding operation over 3 days.
Kusak also said officials on the island are concerned about the surge in cases, with daily new infections over 200 and fears that the tourism reopening drive could be affected. Yesterday, Phuket logged at least 242 new cases.
The proactive mass testing will target around 25,000 people on the island, officials said.
According to the government’s published data, Phuket has seen over 30,000 tourists and visitors since it launched the sandbox re-opening programme on July 1. Only 96 of those arrivals tested positive for the coronavirus during their stay on the island, the health ministry said.