Sinovac must provide more trial data – Thailand

BANGKOK – Thailand, which is expected to receive its first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine from Sinovac Biotech in February, is asking for more information from the Chinese company on its clinical trials before the delivery.

Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) spokesman, Thaweesilp Wissanuyothin said Thailand’s primary consideration on COVID-19 vaccine was safety and efficacy.

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At present, he said, the Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received requests for vaccine registration from AstraZeneca and Sinovac.

“The Thai FDA has already made a request to Sinovac to provide it with more detailed information on the clinical trials,” he said at the COVID-19 daily briefing, here, today.

The effectiveness of Sinovac’s vaccine has triggered concerns following data from a Brazil trial showing that it was only 50.4 per cent effective at preventing symptomatic infections.

Director-general of the Medical Science Department, Supakit Sirilak said Thailand was on track to receive China’s Sinovac vaccine starting next month despite the trial data showing lower efficiency.

Thailand has procured two million doses of COVID-19 vaccine developed by China’s pharmaceutical company, Sinovac Biotech Ltd. The first shipment of 200,000 doses is expected to arrive by the end of February and 800,000 doses by end of March and one million doses by end of April.

Under the National Vaccination Plan, Thaweesilp said the first batch of 200,000 Sinovac’s vaccine will be given to high-risk groups in areas where the transmission rate is high in the latest outbreak, including medical and public health personnel, patients with underlying health conditions, and citizens aged 60 and above.

Thailand has also ordered 61 million doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. Siam Bioscience will be producing COVID-19 vaccine using the formula and technology developed by AstraZeneca Plc, with its first batch to be ready by May.

Boost tourism

Meanwhile in an effort to boost its ailing tourism sector amid the COVID-19 pademic, the government has approved six golf resorts for quarantine, including three in Kanchanaburi and one each in Nakhon Nayok, Phetchaburi and Chiang Mai.

The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) said foreign tourists undergoing quarantine at these golf resorts will be allowed to play golf and move freely rather than confining themselves in their rooms during the two-week mandatory quarantine.

“Thailand remains a golfer’s paradise even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With fewer players on the links, it is now easier to book tee times, and the pace of play is much faster than ever with less wear and tear over the last year as well,” it said.

It added that foreign visitors choosing golf quarantine need visas – either Single-Entry Tourist Visa or Special Tourist Visa, medical and travel insurance as well as a certificate of entry.

TAT added that golf courses in Thailand also retain their great value for money, and offer special quarantine packages with discounted green fees and special amenities.

The golf quarantine is the latest effort to woo foreign tourist amid COVID-19 pandemic in the kingdom.

Last year, Thailand offered Special Tourist Visas for long-stay foreign tourist but it received lukewarm response.

In 2019, Thailand attracted about 40 million tourists who spent 1.91 trillion baht ((100 baht = RM13.47) . For 2020, from January to November, the number of foreign visitors stood at 6.7 million, a drop of 81 per cent from a year earlier with 6.69 million of them arriving in the first quarter, before Thailand imposed a travel ban in April due to the pandemic.

Over the last 24 hours, Thailand recorded 271 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths, bringing the tally in the kingdom to 11,262 cases and 69 fatalities.

Of 271 new cases, 259 cases local transmissions, 181 of which were found through active case detection while 12 were imported cases.

The two deaths reported involved a 71-year-old British man who had underlying health conditions and a 53-year-old Thai man who had diabetes.

The latest outbreak in Thailand since mid-December has spread to 60 provinces, recording 7,025 cases and nine fatalities.