This summer, Thailand is experiencing its worst wave of coronavirus so far. Previously relatively unaffected by the virus, the number of infections – and deaths – has risen sharply in the Southeast Asian nation for the first time since the start of the pandemic. The Thai authorities and scientists want to vaccinate their population on a massive scale and are studying the possibility of injecting the vaccine under the skin of patients.
According to Bloomberg figures, 8.2 per cent of Thailand – the country has just under 70 million inhabitants – is currently fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. This is far too little to stop the spread of the virus, which has killed more than 200 daily for the past ten days.
One of the main reasons for the slow pace of the vaccination campaign in Thailand is supply problems. Yet the country has authorized no fewer than six vaccines: Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac and Sinopharm.
Thailand itself produces AstraZeneca vaccines on its own territory. But this own production and orders are not keeping up with the wishes of the authorities.
Bangkok has even had to apply to Bhutan, a small Asian country with a population of less than a million and an immunization rate of 63 per cent. Last week, this resulted in 150,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine being sent to Thailand. Thailand has promised to return favours to Bhutan in the future.
Same yield, lower quantity?
The Thai authorities are doing everything they can to speed up the vaccination campaign. Last month they even made their country the first in the world to mix a Chinese and a Western vaccine. Some people received the first dose of Sinovac and a second dose of AstraZeneca.
Now Thailand could become the first country to inject the vaccine under the skin, Reuters reports. A technique through which many products could be used optimally. The first tests are promising.
“Our previous experience shows that intradermal injections use 25 per cent of a dose of the vaccine in muscle injection, but induce the same level of immunity,” the head of the Department of Medical Sciences, Supakit Sirilak, told reporters.
If research shows that intradermal injections are as effective as muscle injections for any vaccine, Thailand could vaccinate four to five times as many people with the same amount of vaccines, he added.
So far, none of the drug companies involved has commented on the trials.
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