BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Thailand will receive 61 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine this year, a government spokesman said on Monday (Aug 23), as the South-east Asian country rushes to vaccinate its population amid a surge in coronavirus infections.
Thailand is AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing hub for the region, but has been slow to obtain enough shots to inoculate its population.
About 9 per cent of Thailand's 66 million people have been fully vaccinated.
"This is good news, it will help create herd immunity faster. This will take pressure off the healthcare system, help people return to their normal lives and speed up economic recovery," government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said in a statement.
Last month, health officials said AstraZeneca had asked to delay deliveries of Thailand's order of 61 million doses to May 2022.
The news that the doses would arrive sooner than expected followed a meeting between Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and AstraZeneca chief executive Pascal Soriot, said Mr Anucha.
The delivery would bring Thailand's total vaccine supply for 2021 to over 120 million doses - comprising 61 million from AstraZeneca, 30 million from China's Sinovac and 30 million from Pfizer-BioNTech.
Thailand will buy an additional 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine next year, Mr Anucha added.
Thailand has reported 1,066,786 coronavirus infections and 9,562 deaths since the pandemic began.
Over 97 per cent of those cases and deaths have been detected since April this year.
In addition to buying more AstraZeneca doses, Thailand also has plans to buy 50 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in 2022, according to the Health Ministry.