About Vaccines And Thailand’s Tourism Reopening Policy

Economy & Business.

About Vaccines And Thailand’s Tourism Reopening Policy
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About Vaccines And Thailand’s Tourism Reopening Policy

Vaccine development and launch news are coming out fast and furious as countries scramble to quickly get their population vaccinated and end the pandemic. This could have a positive effect for Thailand’s tourism reopening.

Two vaccines waiting authorization for use

With just one month left in 2020, at least two coronavirus vaccines will be authorized for use in the US before the new year.

US pharmaceuticals giant Pfizer, has claimed its vaccine candidate demonstrated 95% effectiveness in clinical trials and are awaiting Drug Administration approval to distribute the vaccine in the US.

Moderna, another US drug developer, says vaccine is 94% effective and that it applied for FDA authorization this week as well.

Each vaccine requires an initial dose plus a subsequent “booster” dose several weeks later.

Both are mRNA vaccine candidates and will most likely be the first to receive Food and Drug Administration authorization.

UK has become the first country, even before the US, to approve the use of Pfizer vaccine for mass inoculations. About 800,000 doses will be made available in Britain from next week.

The UK’s approval is expected to place extra pressure on FDA regulators to swiftly approve the vaccine. On Monday, Vice-President Mike Pence told US governors in a conference call that rollout of the vaccine could begin “as soon as the week of December 14”.

The EU signed a deal with Moderna on Wednesday to secure 160 million doses of the US biotech company’s vaccine. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the first European citizens might be vaccinated before the end of December.

In an address to the European Parliament, she said there is finally light at the end of the tunnel and that EU member states should start to distribute vaccines.

Costa Rica has signed an agreement with pharmaceutical companies Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNtech SE for the manufacture and delivery of 3 million Covid-19 vaccines begiining next year, the office of President Carlos Alvarado said on Thursday.

Here is a look at what leading non-Western nations are doing in the race to get a vaccine approved:

China has four coronavirus vaccines in phase 3 trials. Although regulators have yet to approve China’s vaccines for mass distribution, the country has approved some advanced candidates for emergency use, giving jabs to people ranging from state employees to international students since July.

Nearly a million people have already taken an experimental vaccine by Sinopharm, the company said in November. China has also been ramping up its vaccine production capacity, with health officials expecting the country will be able to produce 610 million doses by end of the year. 

Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine was registered in August and is currently completing the third and final phase of clinical trials.

Developers plan to produce more than two million doses of the vaccine by the end of 2020. 300 vaccination points are already on standby waiting for the shots to come in.

India’s PM Narenda Modi has said a coronavirus vaccine against the Covid-19 infection could be ready for India within December.

Coronavirus vaccine could be ready for its administration in India in a few weeks and the vaccination would begin as soon as the Centre gets a go-ahead from the scientists.

India is one of the largest vaccine manufacturers globally and already has the world’s largest Universal Immunization Program in place which administers c390m annually, mostly to children and pregnant women. Continue Reading Below ... 

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What does it mean for Thailand

Although Thailand has been a country that has been able to control the pandemic much earlier on, the country’s tourism sector which contributes almost 20% of GDP is reeling from the effects of close to zero tourism.

The Thai authorities policy of 14 day quarantine has been a major deterrent for tourists to visit the country.

The general view seems to be that the country would not be able to open safely until all the Thai population or at least a major part of it is vaccinated, therefore Thailand’s reopening depends on the swift production of vaccines.

Thailand has signed up with AstraZeneca to secure a supply of its Covid-19 vaccine where the Oxford University-developed research vaccine will be produced locally.

Initially, Thai authorities had said that the vaccines would be available by mid 2021 and that’s presumably when the country would look at reopening.

However, given the fact that many other vaccines are on the stage of rolling out and  many countries could be vaccinating their people, perhaps Thailand should prepare to reopen quarantine-free to all tourists who have been vaccinated regardless of country of origin. 

Keeping it simple, tourists need to provide vaccination proof, take a coronavirus test 72 hours before leaving their country and another one on arrival. As an extra precaution, Thailand should consider procuring doses of the vaccines that are rolling out and vaccinate the frontliners in healthcare and other workers who will be in contact with tourists.

Keeping this plan would see Thailand reopen safely as early as mid to end January which could be the lifeline that the tourism sector needs to bounce back in the first quarter of 2021, putting the country on a faster track to economic recovery.