Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs refutes accusations of international vaccine non-cooperation

Mr. Tanee says the allegations are unfounded in any way as the department does everything possible for Thais, and foreigners residing in Thailand to ensure quickest access to the vaccine.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Spokesperson has denied Thailand has refused COVID-19 vaccine cooperation with other countries, insisting that all its efforts are in the national interest.

Tanee Sangrat, Foreign Affairs spokesperson and Director-General of the Department of Information, says the allegations are unfounded in any way as the department does everything possible for Thais, and foreigners residing in Thailand, to ensure access to the vaccine as soon as possible, including facilitating an exchange of vaccines and receiving vaccine assistance from allied countries.

The exchange of vaccines, or the vaccine swapping practice means Thailand also sends vaccines to countries that have donated doses to Thailand, as it has with Singapore. Mr.Sangrat says Thailand previously sent RT-PCR testing equipment to Singapore in the early stages of the severe outbreak in Singapore. Recently, Singapore announced it will send 120,000 AstraZeneca doses to Thailand.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has expressed its gratitude and requested the assistance in the form of borrowing doses, which will be returned in kind, when Thai supplies meet domestic demand. A similar practice exists between Thailand and Bhutan as well.

” This is mutual assistance. No one thinks about small or big (countries) or who could lose face at all” , Mr.Sangrat says.

As for claims that representatives of Moderna vaccine were not able to access Thai diplomatic representatives, Mr. Sangrat clarified that the Ministry and the Royal Thai Embassy in Washington D.C. had received an email from a pharmaceutical distribution company, claiming to be the official representative in the procurement and distribution of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in Thailand. The message said that Moderna’s main manufacturing plant in Switzerland which produces vaccines for countries outside the United States of America, has faced some difficulties causing shortages and delays in vaccine delivery to countries including Thailand, and asked both the Ministry and the Embassy to negotiate with the US government regarding 10 million doses previously scheduled for the third quarter of this year, so that it could send the vaccines to Thailand first.

” The company had never presented any documents. Neither a contract for the purchase of vaccines by the Thai government the company referred to, nor information regarding demand for vaccine by the Thai private sector, quantity, or delivery time frame, and the actions of the company in requesting such negotiations with the US government, including the company’s channels to contact the US government, and letter of intent officially issued to the Foreign Ministry” , according to Mr.Sangrat.

Moderna is considered an “alternative” kind of vaccine in Thailand, meaning it’s purchased by private hospitals for its clients, and ิัby the Thai Red Cross Society which distributes it to local governments, via the Government’s Pharmaceutical Organization of Thailand.

In the past, the Ambassador of Thailand to the United States of America, raised the issue of the pandemic situation in Thailand and the urgent need for the vaccine with the US’ top representative in an official letter requesting expedited delivery of vaccines ordered by Thailand, as well as a discussion with Thai-American U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth on the same matter, and for vaccines unused by the US government, Mr.Sangrat says.

Senator Duckworth previously announced the US would donate a total of 2.5 million Pfizer doses to Thailand. The first lot of 1.5 million doses arrived on 30th July 2021.

” The Ministry has also been monitoring the development of COVID-19 vaccine around the world, negotiating with governments and foreign agencies to drive forward research and development cooperation with potential countries, in order to support the government’s policy to make Thailand a vaccine production base and distribution center in the region” Mr. Sangrat added. (NNT)