|A health worker holds a syringe and a vial of the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine at a market in Bangkok, Thailand, Mar 17, 2021. (File photo by=REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] BANGKOK: Thailand will stop using the COVID-19 vaccine of China's Sinovac when its current stock finishes, a senior official said on Monday (Oct 18), having used the shot extensively in combination with Western-developed vaccines.
Thailand has used more than 31.5 million Sinovac doses since February, starting with two doses to frontline workers, high-risk groups and residents of Phuket, a holiday island that reopened to tourists early in a pilot scheme. In July, Thailand started inoculating people with Sinovac as a first dose followed by the Oxford University-developed AstraZeneca. Thailand was the first country to combine Chinese and Western shots, a strategy its health officials said has proved effective. Thailand next year plans to buy 120 million COVID-19 vaccine doses in total and has already booked 60 million doses of AstraZeneca, a vaccine it manufactures locally. Thailand has said it will only procure vaccines effective against new variants.
It has so far vaccinated 36 percent of the estimated 72 million people who live in Thailand and hopes to reach 70 percent by year-end. The country is planning ahead for a quarantine-free reopening plan next month of 17 provinces to vaccinated arrivals from low-risk countries. Included will be destinations like Pattaya, Hua Hin, Chiang Mai and Bangkok. Thailand has recorded nearly 1.8 million cases and 18,336 fatalities overall.