When it comes to Covid-19 vaccines, anything uttered by Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul should come with side-effects warning labels:
“Contains large concentration of bullshit.”
“May create false hope.”
“Not to be taken seriously.”
The non-health professional health minister was back on the loom this week, yarn-spinning announcements that Thailand would receive 32.5 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. Besides the fact no purchase of additional doses has been approved, Anutin doesn’t even understand when the fourth quarter of the year is.
Anutin said the Public Health Ministry earlier placed an order for 20 million more doses with of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as part of the government’s vaccine plan.
In addition, Pfizer, he said, has also offered to send another 10 million doses to the country before the end of this year. That, combined with the 2.5 million doses already donated by the United States, will bring the total of Pfizer vaccines up to 32.5 million doses in the fourth quarter.
Earth to Anutin: This is August. The donated vaccines are already here. The fourth quarter begins in October. So, at best, Thailand will get 30 million doses in the fourth quarter.
That, however, seems unlikely since the Government Procurement Office hasn’t ordered or paid for the additional 10 million doses and the government’s legal department and Health Ministry have not signed a purchase contact. That, as has been shown already this year, takes a while in Thailand.
It took Thai bureaucrats three months for the Department of Disease Control to finally sign the contract for the first 20 million Pfizer doses. It was a full month between the time Anutin said the country would buy 5 million doses of Moderna Inc.’s mRNA vaccine and the when the Food and Drug Adminiistration actually signed the deal. The vaccines still haven’t arrive.
Given that a previous Thailand-Pfizer deal already was done, the next purchase may go through faster. But for the minister, who previously tried to spin superspreader-level crowding at the Bang Sue Grand Station’s vaccination center as an optical illusion, to state as “fact” that 32 million doses were coming in the “fourth quarter” proves he knows almost as little about calendars and truth as he does about managing the coronavirus epidemic.