BANGKOK: Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday granted permission for emergency use of Sinovac Biotech’s Covid-19 vaccine, paving the way for the country’s first coronavirus vaccination.
The mandate came just days before Thailand prepared to receive its first 200,000 doses of two million doses of Sinovac’s CoronaVac drug, the first batch of Covid-19 vaccines, which will mainly be given to health workers.
“The US Food and Drug Administration has registered Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine for conditional emergency use, as of February 22,” Surachuk Tangoywat, Deputy Secretary-General of the Food and Drug Administration, told Reuters.
Thailand has only recorded 25,504 cases of coronavirus, more than four-fifths of those cases since December, with 89 deaths overall.
The government has requested 26 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine from AstraZeneca, and has kept another 35 million doses from the company.
Astrazeneca has allowed a Thai company to manufacture the vaccine and it will be used in the nation’s mass vaccination campaign starting in June.
On Monday, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha said he would receive the Sinovac vaccines in person upon their arrival.
Although Thai health authorities have restricted its use to people under the age of 60, Prayut, 66, said he was prepared for his dose.
He also said that most of the remaining restrictions on the Coronavirus will be eased after a drop in new daily cases, in an attempt to stimulate the country’s faltering tourism-dependent economy, which has suffered from tight restrictions on foreign visitors and low consumer confidence.
Prayut said measures in several provinces including Bangkok would be eased leaving only Samut Sakhon province, the epicenter of the recent outbreak, under the highest level of restrictions.
The lifting of restrictions, for which Prayut did not specify a time frame, means bars can reopen and restaurants can sell alcohol, schools can reopen and malls can resume normal business hours.
Meanwhile, Thailand received its first group of 41 visitors from South Korea within the framework of the “golf stone” program in a training course, and received 59 European visitors in the “villa quarantine” program at a luxury resort in Phuket.