AstraZeneca partners in Southeast Asia have missed their dose delivery target in Thailand and shipments to other countries in the region have been delayed. The latest setback for the injections that were supposed to be the backbone of the global immunization effort.
Thailand was due to receive and administer 6 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in June, but health officials said this week they would only distribute around 3.5 million of those injections this month. By committing to always distribute 6 million doses as planned. The Thai government appears to be filling the shortfall with millions of shots from Chinese company Sinovac Biotech Ltd.
Snapshot shipments by Siam Bioscience, AstraZeneca Thailand, to Malaysia and the Philippines have also been delayed, though both countries say they don’t expect to wait too long.
The situation adds to the delivery problems at India Serum Institute of India Ltd, another AstraZeneca partner, which left developing countries from Nepal to Rwanda short of promised vaccines under the Covax program supported by the World Health Organization.
Siam Bioscience is AstraZeneca Thailand’s only covid vaccine partner in Southeast Asia, a region lagging behind in inoculation and where the virus continues to flare up, including Thailand where infections have increased over the years. the last two months.
AstraZeneca declined to comment, while Siam BioScience did not respond to requests for comment.
The Philippines now expects a consignment of nearly 1.2 million AstraZeneca shots to be shipped from Thailand in mid-July rather than this month, although a government official has said the initial delay will not derail the country’s vaccination campaign.
In Malaysia, authorities say they are working to resolve issues with the delivery schedule, which the government said in May would see 610,000 doses arriving from Thailand in June and another 410,000 in July.
AstraZeneca itself is also facing legal action from the European Union over a production shortfall, with the company only delivering 30 million doses to the block in the first quarter, against an initial target of 120 million.
Thailand in search of alternatives
The Anglo-Swedish company, which has partnered with the University of Oxford on the vaccine, has received orders to deliver up to 3 billion doses globally ahead of the release of efficacy data last year . More than twice as many as any other First Wave snapshot, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
While not exclusive to AstraZeneca, the various delays – especially outside India, which has banned the export of Covid vaccines. India’s ban has left dozens of countries counting on the blows desperate to find doses elsewhere, and undermined the company’s offer to supply the developing world.
Now countries are turning to alternatives, especially the clichés developed by Chinese companies Sinovac and Sinopharm which recently received WHO approval. Although less effective than RNA Messenger vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, these vaccines are easier to store and transport.
Thailand, which aims to vaccinate 70% of its population by the end of this year, also now allows regional health authorities to extend the interval between doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to 16 weeks, down from 10 to 12 weeks previously, although officials say this decision is to optimize the effectiveness of the fire and not for lack of supply.
The country has also ordered 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and is in talks for 5 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson single-injection vaccine, as it continues to expect shipments of the AstraZeneca Thailand injections from Siam Bioscience.