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Thailand’s Vaccine Rollout Gets Chaotic With Cancellations, Dose Shortages

By Randy Thanthong-KnightJune 14, 2021, 1:20 PM GMT+8 Updated on 

  •  Non-availability of shots trigger cancellation of appointments
  •  Thailand administered enough shots to cover 4.4% of population
A health worker administers a dose of the CoronaVac Covid-19 vaccine in Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok.

Thailand’s vaccine rollout is trailing its target as a jab shortage and moves to prioritize workers to shield the economy trigger chaos and mass cancellation of appointments.

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and dozens of hospitals across the country have postponed some of the scheduled vaccinations for this week, citing limited vaccine supplies. The delay comes after the nation was able to meet only 56% of its inoculation target in the first week of the nationwide rollout.

The Health Ministry attributed the shortage to “an overwhelming demand for vaccines” and said it has allocated the shots based on infection risks while prioritizing senior citizens, individuals with underlying conditions and workers in Bangkok. Officials reaffirmed on Monday that six million shots will be administered in June as planned.

Sources: Health Ministry, Bloomberg

Authorities from Taiwan to the Philippines are facing vaccine shortages with reports of supply constraints at AstraZeneca Plc’s local manufacturing partner in Thailand even as the outbreak remains rampant in the region. The slow pace of Thai vaccinations may derail its plan for reopening of its most-popular tourist destinations in the fourth quarter as the Southeast Asian nation remains in the grip of its worst wave of infections since the pandemic began.

“There’s been an overwhelming demand for vaccinations so the supply on hand has dwindled,” said Sopon Iamsirithawon, a deputy director-general at Thailand’s Department of Disease Control. “But we’re trying to manage the situation.”

Thailand is facing a vaccine shortage as Siam Bioscience Ltd., a company linked to the Thai monarchy, is reportedly delaying the delivery of vaccines contracted by jurisdictions such as the Philippines, Taiwan and Malaysia from AstraZeneca, according to Reuters reports.

Additional Supply

AstraZeneca and Siam Bioscience didn’t immediately respond to requests for comments.

Thailand’s government expects an additional supply of 1.5 million doses from AstraZeneca later this week, which will be sent to the Bangkok region, the epicenter of the current outbreak, Sopon said.

Thailand administered nearly 2 million shots during the first week of the mass rollout that began on June 7, well short of its target of 500,000 doses a day. It’s injected 6.2 million doses so far, enough to cover about 4.4% of its population. The country has a target to inoculate 70% of its residents by the end of this year.

(Updates with June target in third paragraph.)