At the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) meeting, the Prime Minister today urged the Ministry of Public Health to ensure Thailand has an effective COVID-19 vaccine available at a time similar to other countries taking a multiple approach.
The government has approved a 1 billion baht budget for the National Vaccine Institute (NVI) to procure a COVID-19 vaccine, through domestic development projects, joint projects with international researchers, and purchases from foreign manufacturers.
For domestic research and development projects, the government has allocated a 400 million baht budget for COVID-19 vaccine projects in Thailand. Currently, the most advanced projects are about to enter Phase 1 clinical trials in humans, namely the mRNA vaccine project by the Chula Vaccine Research Center, a DNA vaccine project by BioNet-Asia, a plant-based vaccine project by Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Pharmacy, and Baiya Phytopharm. Researchers have been coordinating closely with the regulatory body to ensure safety and quality standards are observed.
In joint projects, the government has allocated 600 million baht budget for joint vaccine research projects between Thai and international researchers, where Thailand will receive technological knowhow on vaccine manufacture. Advanced projects in this category are now in Phase 3 clinical trials with promising results in Asia and Europe. One notable candidate vaccine is a project between AstraZeneca and Oxford University, which has selected Siam Bioscience company in Thailand as a manufacturer. The Thai government is negotiating for the transfer of manufacturing knowhow to Siam Bioscience in late November, which will enable the production of 26 million doses of the vaccine, equivalent to 20 percent of Thailand’s population.
As for the importation of foreign-made vaccines, the Ministry of Public Health on 9th July submitted its letter of intent to join the COVAX facility for global COVID-19 vaccine distribution, and appointed the National Vaccine Institute, the Department of Disease Control, and the Global Health Division at the Ministry of Public Health’s Office of the Permanent Secretary to coordinate with related agencies to ensure Thailand’s access to COVID-19 vaccines.