BANGKOK — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs appears to have scuttled an offered donation of 3 million doses of Moderna vaccine from a government agency in Poland to a hospital in Thailand, citing the need to conduct the deal through an “appropriate” diplomatic channel.
The MFA’s effort to block the shipment of the mRNA vaccines to Thailand was revealed in an internal document published by Than Setthakit newspaper on Monday. According to the letter, which was sent by the MFA to Thammasat University Hospital, the ministry said it cannot facilitate the donation, since it was not conducted on a government-to-government basis.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not informed about the aforementioned donation through formal diplomatic channels by Poland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Polish Embassy in Thailand,” the letter said. “Therefore, we believe a direct communication between the vaccine donor in Poland and the vaccine recipient in Thailand would be more appropriate.”
The MFA also warned that Thammasat University, who runs the hospital, should consult health authorities in Thailand first about its wishes to receive the donation of Moderna vaccines from Poland, lest there be any issue about indemnity or damages related to the donation.
“Thammasat University should carefully consider the protocols involved in the donation of Moderna vaccines to avoid any complaints from any side in the future,” the letter said.
Thammasat University Hospital previously said it secured a shipment of 3 million shots of COVID-19 vaccine made by Moderna from Rzadowa Agencja Rezerw Strategicznych, a government agency in Poland, free of charge. The donation was supposed to take place this month.
Moderna was approved by Thai health authorities in July as an “alternative” vaccine that private hospitals and clinics can sell to customers. The sales typically come with a no-refund clause.
But the vaccines have yet to arrive, following multiple delays, a cause of frustration for many Thais who already pre-ordered the vaccines from private hospitals and clinics.
In October, Zuellig Pharma, the company responsible for distribution of the Moderna vaccine, said the doses will arrive in weekly shipments starting in November, though The firm did not give any precise date.