Thailand earmarks 200 million USD for COVID-19 vaccine hinh anh 1A COVID-19 vaccine being developed in a laboratory in Saraburi province of Thailand (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Bangkok (VNA) – Thailand’s Cabinet on November 17 gave permission to the Ministry of Public Health to pay 6 billion baht (200 million USD) and reserve 26 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine developed by British pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

The government’s spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said the money would come from its emergency budget reserved for the procurement of the vaccine now being tested by the pharmaceutical company.

The budget will go to two agencies – the National Vaccine Institute for vaccine development and the Disease Control Department for vaccine procurement and management.

Anucha said the government would buy the vaccine from AstraZeneca since the Ministry of Public Health had signed an MoU with the company and it had agreed to produce the vaccine in collaboration with Thai company Siam Bioscience.

The government has instructed the National Vaccine Institute to procure COVID-19 vaccine for 20 percent of the population or about 13 million people.

Minister of Public Health Anutin Charnvirakul said that the made-to order reservation ensured that Thailand would have access to the vaccine as soon as it received safety approval in the UK.

In addition, the contract with AstraZeneca allows Thailand to produce more vaccine at its own plant in Pathum Thani.

The government believes the arrangement will guarantee that the vaccine will be available to everyone needing it in Thailand and neighbouring countries as well.

Experts predict many countries to have supplies of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of next year. The ministry expects to be able to supply half the Thai population within two years./.