Thailand To Give Foreigners COVID-19 Vaccines

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Amid concerns about access to vaccines, Thailand confirmed on Thursday that it plans to cover three million foreigners living in the country in a mass vaccination programme to protect the entire populace.

“Anybody living in Thailand, whether they be Thai or foreign, if they want the vaccine, they can get it,” head of the disease control department, Opas Kankawinpong told a briefing.

“No one is safe until everyone is safe,” he added.

The government has repeatedly stated that foreigners would receive vaccines.

But concerns among expatriates have been raised in recent weeks, with some venting frustrations on social media about a lack of public information, problems registering or confusion over private vaccine availability.

Thailand needs to immunise about 50 million people to achieve herd immunity of about 70% of the population, based on estimates of 67 million Thais and 3 million foreign residents, he said.

The country has yet to start its mass immunisation programme but has administered vaccines to mostly frontline workers from its stock of 2.5 million doses of Sinovac (SVA.O) vaccines.

Its main source of vaccines will be a local manufacturer set to produce AstraZeneca’s (AZN.L) vaccines after June.

Anxiety over vaccines has risen in Thailand as it deals with its biggest outbreak so far, with more than two-thirds of its 336 fatalities recorded in the past month alone.

New daily infections have been stable at around 2,000 since mid-April. There were 1,911 new coronavirus cases and 18 deaths announced on Thursday.

The health ministry is working on other ways to include non-Thais in the vaccination programme, including via mobile applications or direct contact from hospitals, according to the foreign ministry.

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