No More Sinovac Orders After Current Batch Runs Out, Gov’t Says

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on May 17, 2021, presides over a ceremony to receive 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine donated by the Chinese government.

BANGKOK — The government said it will not place orders for further shipments of Sinovac vaccines once the current supply runs out later this month, since health authorities will now switch to a combination of AstraZeneca and Pfizer doses instead.

The decision to end the use of the China-made vaccine came after over 31.5 million Sinovac doses have been administered throughout the country. The last of Sinovac doses will likely be distributed by next week, Department of Disease Control director Opas Karnkawinpong said.

Sinovac was the first brand of COVID-19 vaccines to arrive in Thailand, back in February. The government originally said the shots will only be used on a limited number of frontline health workers and vulnerable groups, but Sinovac later became the primary type of vaccine in the national inoculation drive.

The reliance on Sinovac is partly driven by delays and production issues in locally manufactured AstraZeneca doses.

When AstraZeneca supplies became available, the Public Health Ministry adopted using Sinovac as the first dose and AstraZeneca as the second — the first country in the world to adopt such combination, though health officials defended the efficacy of the approach as scientifically valid.

The Department of Disease Control said the country now has sufficient supplies of vaccine available, especially AstraZeneca and Pfizer, so officials will now use those two types in the new mix-and-match policy.

According to the health ministry, Thailand will procure 120 million vaccine doses by next year, including 60 million doses of the locally manufactured AstraZeneca.