Thailand to Join COVAX Following Low Vaccine Supply

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Crowded market in Sukhothai, Thailand in 2020
A crowded market in Sukhothai, Thailand in 2020.

Thailand has announced it is in the process of joining COVAX, a worldwide initiative aimed at ensuring equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines.

The head of Thailand’s National Vaccine Institute issued an apology yesterday for the country’s slow and inadequate rollout of Covid-19 vaccines, according to AP News, promising that it would join the COVAX program and receive supplies from the pool of donated vaccines next year.

“I apologize to the people that the National Vaccine Institute has not managed to procure a sufficient amount of vaccines appropriate for the situation, although we have tried our best,” vaccine institute director Nakorn Premsri said at a news conference.

“The mutations were something that could not be predicted, which have caused a more rapid spread than last year. The vaccine procurement effort did not match the current situation.”

Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that opted not to join the COVAX program, saying that because it is a middle-income country it would not be able to take advantage of free or cheaper vaccines under the program.

However, following the rapid spread of Covid-19 within its borders, Thailand was forced to urgently purchase Sinovac vaccines from China at high prices.

The highly contagious Delta variant has placed Thailand under tremendous pressure, with the country recording over 13,000 new cases of Covid-19 yesterday, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 439,477.

Thailand has vaccinated 11.3 million people, with 16% of its population receiving at least a first dose.

The outbreak in Thailand has caused an influx of returning migrant workers to Laos seeking vaccination or medical treatment, many of whom have carried covid infections with them.