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Public Health defends ‘Mix & Match’ vaccination approach with Sinovac

Vaccination with the first dose being of the Sinovac inactivated virus vaccine, followed by the second dose using the AstraZeneca viral vector vaccine is the standard for vaccination for Thai people, said Public Health Permanent Secretary Dr. Kiattibhoom Vongrachit, as he defended the “mix and match” approach, its safety and its efficacy in the prevention of severe cases or deaths among the vaccinated.

Dr. Kiattibhoom also beseeched the Opposition to refrain from speaking negatively about the quality of the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine in ways which could fuel public confusion or mistrust of the vaccine. Nevertheless, he then said that the Ministry of Public Health will procure more effective vaccines for the Thai people, which can cope with new variants of the virus.

Meanwhile, Medical Sciences Department Director-General Dr. Supakit Sirilak said that the mixed inoculation of Sinovac and AstraZeneca vaccines is as effective as two doses of AstraZeneca, but will allow for inoculation of twice as many people, due to the availability of the Sinovac vaccine.

Dr. Supakit also disclosed that 1.5 million people have already been given a combination of Sinovac and AstraZeneca and they are safe. In the next step, about 3 million people who are fully inoculated with two doses of Sinovac vaccine, will be given a booster shot using the AstraZeneca vaccine.

He noted, however, that the study of the “mix and match” approach, conducted by the Medical Sciences Department and the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj hospital, has not been published yet “under the present circumstances”.

Disease Control Department Dr. Opart Karnkawinpong also defended the “mix and match” vaccination formula, saying it has been approved by several Thai and foreign medical organizations as well as the National Communicable Disease Committee.

As the coronavirus is constantly mutating, while new vaccines are being developed to cope with them, he said that the existing vaccines have become less effective, but they can still protect against becoming seriously sick or dying from the disease.

On the third day of the censure debate In Parliament this morning (Thursday), Pheu Thai MP Jiraporn Sindhuprai asked why Thailand paid about 100 baht per dose more for the Chinese Sinovac product than Indonesia, India and the Philippines did.

She also expressed skepticism over why the Public Health Ministry sought cabinet approval for 5.5 billion baht, to procure Sinovac in several lots, when the actual prices paid should be about 1.6 billion baht lower, raising a suspicion of kickbacks being part of the procurement deal. She said that the Pheu Thai Party will be asking the National Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the Sinovac vaccine deal.

Sinovac currently makes up the majority of vaccines Thailand has received, at about 25.5 million doses so far. 12 million more doses are being ordered amid criticism over the Chinese vaccine’s reportedly low efficacy.

Up to 33.42 million vaccine doses have been administered so far, with 8.68 million people being fully vaccinated with two doses, or about 12.5% of the entire population, and over 595,000 others receiving their third booster shots.

Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)

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