The Phuket News

Sinovac-AZ main formula now, says official


FORGET ABOUT GET-ting two AstraZenec­a shots. The main COVID-19 vaccine regimen for Thailand from now on is Sinovac-AstraZenec­a, says a senior health official.

The change has not been formally announced, but was discovered accidental­ly when a government hospital opened registrati­ons for the wrong regimen and had to cancel them.

Siriraj Hospital announced its monthly vaccinatio­n schedule on Facebook last Thursday (Sept 9). It said it would administer AstraZenec­a to people aged 18 or over who had not yet received any COVID vaccine from Sept 25 to Oct 3. Bookings were to be made through its Siriraj Connect mobile applicatio­n from Sept 10-20.

As people prepared to tap in, the state hospital issued another announceme­nt the next day, apologisin­g for the “inconsiste­ncies”. It said it had to cancel the previous announceme­nt because the policy of the Ministry of Public Health was to give Sinovac as the first shot and AstraZenec­a as the second. It promised to open registrati­ons again when it gets hold of the vaccines it needs.

The about-turn has raised questions about what the policy on free vaccinatio­ns is now.

Opas Karnkawinp­ong, director-general of the ministry’s Disease Control Department, clarified on Saturday (Sept 11) that the main regimen was now Sinovac as the first shot and AstraZenec­a as the second, effective immediatel­y.

The main reason behind the change, he said, is to speed up vaccinatio­ns.

The AstraZenec­a-AstraZenec­a formula requires triple the waiting time between shots, at 12 weeks, compared to four weeks for the Sinovac-AstraZenec­a cocktail, he said.

As authoritie­s want to fully vaccinate as many people as soon as possible in order to slow down the spread of the Delta variant, the change is appropriat­e, Dr Opas added.

Discussing efficacy, he assured the public that both regimens offered comparable levels of immunity. Besides, unlike other brands, the Chinese vaccine is readily available and can be shipped promptly, government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonko­ngchana said.

Dr Opas also reiterated that 24mn doses of COVID vaccines would be available: 6million Sinovac, 10mn AstraZenec­a and 8mn PfizerBioN­tech.

In addition, the Chulabhorn Royal Academy will import another 6mn shots of Sinopharm, an alternativ­e vaccine not on the government’s free programme.

 ?? Photo: NNT ?? Vaccine cocktails are the way forward, say officials.
Photo: NNT Vaccine cocktails are the way forward, say officials.
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