BANGKOK (REUTERS) – Russia has accepted a request to provide Thailand with its Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, a Thai official said on Thursday (April 22), as the South-east Asian nation steps up efforts to find more vaccines ahead of its mass immunisation drive.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has promised to find 35 million more doses of Covid-19 vaccines from different companies, on top of existing orders of around 65 million doses, while the country battles its fastest-spreading outbreak yet.
“President Vladimir Putin has expressed his support for the Thai government on this matter,” said government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri.
“Our Health Ministry will now urgently talk to the company importing the Sputnik V vaccine on the timeframe for delivery, the amount and price,” he said.
Thailand, which has been credited for its swift containment of previous outbreaks, has yet to start mass vaccinations . Its plan until recently was centred almost entirely on 61 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which a local firm will manufacture.
However, it is now looking to diversify its sources of vaccines amid competition for global supplies and as it tackles a third wave of infections that has seen about 40 per cent of its total cases reported in the past three weeks alone.
Health officials on Thursday said Thailand may have hit the peak of that wave, which include the highly transmissible B117 variant.
“We project that the number of cases will gradually drop in one or two weeks,” said Department of Disease Control director-general Opas Karnkawinpong.
Thailand reported seven new deaths from Covid-19 on Thursday, its highest number of fatalities in a single day, taking its overall total to 117. It also reported 1,470 infections, taking total cases to 48,113.
Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul held talks on Thursday with a representative of Pfizer, which he said would provide Thailand with 10 million doses of its vaccine.
“The main thing is the timeframe for the delivery, the price is not a concern and people’s safety is more important,” Mr Anutin said.
Thailand has been using Sinovac Biotech’s vaccine for its initial inoculations, for mainly frontline health workers, as well as imported doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
So far, nearly 865,000 people have received at least one shot.
More on this topic Related Story Thai PM says 35 million more Covid-19 shots sought for this year Related Story Covid-19 vaccine: How many doses have been administered in S’pore and around the world Related Stories: Related Story Entry approvals for non-citizens, non-PRs travelling from India to S’pore cut due to Covid-19 Related Story ‘Double mutant’ Covid-19 strain raises concerns in India Related Story Russia‘s Sputnik V vaccine 97.6% effective in real-world study: Scientist Related Story Covid-19 breathalysers could be used on large scale in S’pore soon Related Story Do we need masks outdoors? Covid-19 experts in US weigh in Related Story Australia-New Zealand travel bubble launches with lopsided demand Related Story Hong Kong quarantines building tenants after mutant strain of Covid-19 virus found Related Story Kyrgyzstan pushes poisonous root as Covid-19 cure Related Story Cambodia’s Hun Sen says country on ‘brink of death’ from Covid-19 surge Related Story Pandemic fatigue, rise of new strains: Why Asia is struggling amid surge in Covid-19 cases Join ST’s Telegram channel here and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.