• People who received two doses of SinoVac vaccine urged to get a booster shot to boost immunity
  • A leaked internal memo recommended against giving a third vaccine dose
  • Thailand is expected to receive 1.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine this month

Thailand’s health minister on Monday said the country plans to give its health care workers a mix of SinoVac and Oxford-AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to “improve protection” after hundreds of fully vaccinated medical workers were diagnosed with the virus. 

Anutin Charnvirakul, the country’s health minister, said that people who received a dose of China’s SinoVac should receive a shot of AstraZeneca or Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines as the second dose a month later. 

The health minister also urged people who received two doses of the SinoVac vaccine to get a booster shot to boost immunity. "This is to improve protection against the Delta variant and build high level of immunity against the disease," Charnvirakul said at a news conference, according to ABS-CBN News.

On Sunday, the Thai Health Ministry revealed that at least 618 of the 677,348 medical workers who received two doses of the SinoVac inactivated virus vaccine were diagnosed with coronavirus. One of the medical personnel has died while another remains in critical condition, according to The New York Times.

The move comes a week after an unnamed official recommended that authorities should not give a booster shot to avoid denting public confidence in the effectiveness of China’s SinoVac, according to a leaked health ministry memo. 

"In the present situation, if the vaccine is given to the third group, it is an admission that Sinovac can't give protection and it will make it harder to find an excuse," the internal memo read, as reported by the Bangkok Post

Health Minister Charnvirakul later confirmed the memo to be authentic but noted that it was only an opinion and that an expert panel was responsible for setting the government’s vaccine policy. 

"It will be considered by the communicable disease control committee and the vaccination committee. We don't know how the debate will go," he added.

Thai health officials recorded 9,418 new COVID-19 cases Sunday, bringing the country’s total number of infections to 336,371 since the beginning of the pandemic. Authorities also reported 91 new coronavirus-related deaths Saturday, bringing the total figure to 2,711 fatalities. 

Thailand is expected to receive 1.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the United States this July, with 20 million more doses after October, according to Reuters

Pfizer-BioNTech_COVID-19_vaccine_(2020)_E Currently, the states with the lowest vaccination rates are Mississippi, Alabama, Wyoming and Arkansas. Photo: Creative Commons