Thai regulator approves AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use

Thailand is set to import 200,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thailand's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency use approval for the Covid-19 vaccine of AstraZeneca, three health ministry sources said on Thursday (Jan 21).

Thailand is set to import 200,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with the first 50,000 doses expected to arrive next month, Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Wednesday.

The three senior ministry sources, who requested anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to media, said the regulator had approved the AstraZeneca vaccine on Wednesday, applicable for a period of one year.

One of the sources said approval applied only to doses manufactured overseas.

Thailand has signed a deal with AstraZeneca to produce 26 million doses of its vaccine locally through the firm Siam Bioscience.

Thailand's FDA has so far received registration requests for vaccines from AstraZeneca and China's Sinovac Biotech.

It hopes to secure 63 million doses altogether and has so far ordered two million doses of that made by China's Sinovac Biotech.

The approval comes as Thailand tries to contain its biggest coronavirus outbreak yet, which has seen cases triple in the past five weeks, albeit from a low base.

It reported 142 new infections on Thursday, taking the total to 12,795, with 71 deaths.

Bangkok authorities said on Thursday some business activities would be allowed to resume, in response to declining coronavirus infections in the capital after curbs were imposed.

Thirteen types of businesses including gyms, traditional massage services, sport facilities and bowling alley can reopen from Friday, but with strict health protocols. Schools, daycare centres and bars will remain closed.

A spokesman for the city government said Bangkok had received at the most 49 Covid-19 new daily patients and that number was now down to about 10.

"We have rapidly controlled the situation during this one month," spokesman Pongsakorn Kwanmuang said.

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