COVID-19: Thailand plans free vaccine injections for half of population this year hinh anh 1People wait to have COVID-19 testing in Samut Sakhon province of Thailand (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Bangkok (VNA) Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has recently reiterated that half of the country's population will get free COVID-19 vaccinations this year.

Local media reported that as Thailand prepares to launch the first COVID-19 vaccinations next month, the PM announced on his Facebook page a long-term plan to ensure Thais will have access to affordable and locally made vaccines.

He said the country will receive the first 200,000 doses of vaccine, made by Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac, in February, and they have been reserved for frontline medical staff and elderly people at high risk.

The first lot is a part of two million doses which the government ordered from Sinovac. Another 800,000 and one million doses will arrive later in March and April.

Previously, the Thai Government pre-ordered 26 million doses from AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish company, and recently sought another 35 million doses.

Prayut assured the authority and public health sector has prepared for local COVID-19 vaccine research and production.

He said local pharmaceutical manufacturer, Siam Bioscience, received a concession from Oxford University/AstraZeneca to produce the vaccines. It plans to produce 200 million doses annually.

Medical institutes at the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chulalongkorn University, also planned to produce their own vaccine formula, the PM added.

On January 7, Thailand recorded 305 new COVID-19 cases and one related death, raising the infection tally to 9,636 with 67 fatalities./.