AstraZeneca scours supply chain for more COVID-19 vaccine doses for Southeast Asia

BANGKOK: AstraZeneca is “scouring” its global supply chain to try and boost COVID-19 vaccine supplies to Southeast Asia, its representative for Thailand said on Saturday (Jul 24), amid speculation of local production shortfalls.

The comments come after leaked letters showed last week that the drugmaker had offered to supply 5 million to 6 million vaccine doses a month to Thailand, contradicting assertions by Thai officials that the government is owed 10 million a month and 61 million doses by the end of 2021.

AstraZeneca is “scouring the 20+ supply chains in our worldwide manufacturing network to find additional vaccines for Southeast Asia, including Thailand”, James Teague, managing director of AstraZeneca Thailand, said in a statement.

“We are hopeful of importing additional doses in the months ahead,” he added.

READ: Bangkok closes public spaces as COVID-19 surges in Thailand

READ: Thailand reports record new COVID-19 cases for second day, apologises for slow vaccine roll-out

The drugmaker had previously said that vaccine doses for Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries would come from a plant of its Thai partner Siam Bioscience, owned by Thailand’s king and a first-time vaccine maker.

Pressure has been mounting on the company after Thailand said that it was considering imposing limits on exports of locally manufactured AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to shore up domestic supplies, a move that could hit its neighbours, some of which are battling similar or more severe COVID-19 crises.

Siam Bioscience has not commented on reports of production shortfalls or delivery timelines.

Teague said that AstraZeneca has delivered 9 million does so far to Thailand and will deliver 2.3 million more next week.

Thailand has fully inoculated just 5.56 per cent of its population of more than 66 million so far, while 18.62 per cent have received at least one dose, government data shows.

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Author: Shirley