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Thailand to get 2M doses of China’s Sinovac shots

THAILAND will get its first lot of COVID-19 vaccines from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. next month, allowing the country in the middle of a resurgence of the coronavirus outbreak to begin inoculating people with the highest risks for infections.

The Southeast Asian nation will receive the Chinese vaccine in three batches, with the first 200,000 doses arriving in February, 800,000 in March, and another 1 million in April, according to the Health Ministry. Thailand has also started local production of vaccines developed by AstraZeneca Plc under a technology transfer agreement, which is expected to be ready for distribution in May, the ministry said.

Thailand is racing to curb the spread of a new wave of local infections that started from seafood markets near Bangkok, the nation’s capital and the largest city. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha has imposed a new set of restrictions on businesses and gatherings in Bangkok and 27 of its worst-affected provinces from Monday to contain the outbreak.

Thailand, which was relatively successful in containing the pathogen after becoming the first country outside China to report the deadly virus, may see cases spike to about 1,000 a day even with strict control measures, according to the Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration. The country reported 315 new virus cases on Sunday with 294 of them locally transmitted, taking the nation’s total to 7,694.

Mr. Prayuth’s government has set a target of inoculating 50% of its population, or about 33 million people, by the end of 2021 with vaccines from various sources, including the World Health Organization (WHO)-backed Covax program. It’s also negotiating with other vaccine developers for additional supplies, according to the health ministry. — Bloomberg

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