Thailand delays AstraZeneca vaccine rollout

by AFP

BANGKOK – Thailand has delayed its roll-out of the AstraZeneca Covid vaccine, a health official said Friday, after several European nations suspended their programmes over blood clot fears.

The kingdom was scheduled to start the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine roll-out on Friday, with Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha expected to get the first jab.

“Vaccine injection for Thais must be safe, we do not have to be in a hurry,” said Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn, an advisor for the country’s Covid-19 vaccine committee, in a press conference.

“Though the quality of AstraZeneca is good, some countries have asked for a delay. We will delay (as well).” 

The move comes after Denmark, Norway and Iceland suspended the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab the day before. 

Austria on Sunday stopped using doses from one batch after a 49-year-old nurse died of “severe blood coagulation problems” days after receiving an anti-Covid shot.

However, there is still no established link between the vaccine and side effects of blood clots, and Denmark stressed that its move was merely precautionary as they examine the risks more closely. 

“We are waiting for Denmark and Austria to make a conclusion,” said virologist Yong Poovarawan.  

“We are delaying to let others prove (the side effects) of whether or not it is because of the vaccine or if it is only on that specific batch,” he said, adding that the batch Thailand has received was manufactured in a factory in Asia. 

Thailand appears to have escaped the brunt of the coronavirus, registering 26,000 cases and 85 deaths. 

It had already rolled out its vaccination campaign last month with the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine, and health workers were the first to receive the injections on February 28.