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Another 3.5 million Sinovac Biotech vaccines have been confirmed by the end of May, health officials said.
The first million vaccines will arrive in just a few days, with a delivery date of May 6 expected. 2 million more people are expected to arrive by the end of May. The Chinese government has committed to donating an extra 500,000 jabs to round out the 3.5 million figure.
While Thailand's vaccine rollout has been disappointingly slow, 2.5 million Sinovac vaccines have been distributed and are being administered mainly to health workers and those at high risk of infection or exposure.
Thailand is acquiring vaccines from a variety of brands and sources, but red tape and production issues have mired progress. Sinovac and AstraZeneca are being approved for use, while Moderna and Zuellig Pharma requesting emergency authorization to clear their vaccines for import. Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Sinopharm of China, Bharat Biotech of India, and Sputnik, a Russian vaccine, have all been reported to be in some stage of the complex registration, evaluation, and approval process.
AstraZeneca's production partnership with Thailand's Siam Bioscience, which is expected to start pumping out 61 million AstraZeneca vaccine jabs in the coming months, is pinning high hopes. Production and delivery were meant to take place in June, but there are rumors that they will be delayed until July.
The third wave of Covid-19 has hit Thailand much harder than the first two waves, especially with the outbreak of the much more transmissible B.1.1.7 variant. With an increasing number of critical condition cases and people on ventilators, last month saw a record 36,000 infections and over 100 deaths.