In a sudden u-turn, Thailand has sais that it will start using the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine after delays over the safety of the product.
Thailand was on Friday the first country outside of Europe to suspend use of the AstraZeneca shot, on which its mass vaccination campaign is heavily reliant.
Places around the world such as Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands have stopped their use of the vaccine due to potential blood clotting issues, while Indonesia has decided to hold off until a World Health Organization review.
Thailand has much riding on the vaccine’s safety and efficacy and the country will from June be one of its regional manufacturers. Thailand has reserved the first 61 million doses for its population.
The Thai Health Minister anutin Charviakul has stated that many countries have now confirmed that there are no links between the vaccine and the blood clot issues
“The prime minister had expressed his intention and that he was ready to be given a vaccine to build confidence for the people,”
Anutin said in a statement. He said an expert panel had agreed it should be administered and some senior medical professors would also receive it on Tuesday to demonstrate their confidence in the vaccine.
AstraZeneca said on Sunday it had reviewed data from more than 17 million people vaccinated in the United Kingdom and European Union, which showed “no evidence of an increased risk of pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis or thrombocytopenia”.
Thailand has imported AstraZeneca vaccines in addition to 200,000 doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac. A further 800,000 CoronaVac doses would arrive on March 20, followed by a million more in April, health officials said.
Anutin on Monday said Thailand hopes to procure 5 million more CoronaVac doses and is negotiating with other vaccine manufacturers that can make deliveries before locally produced Astrazeneca shots are available.