The top item on the wish list of Thailand’s frontline medical workers and volunteers is an mRNA-based coronavirus vaccine. Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha gave them fruit.
The former army general with no more idea how to manage the worst health crisis in a generation than to bake a fruitcake bought a ton of longan, mangosteen and rambutan for those caring for Covid-19 patients.
The purchase will do more for the farmers in the agricultural cooperatives from which he bought the fruit than it will for those risking their lives against a virus they are only marginally inoculated against.
Nearly all medical workers and volunteers were injected with the Chinese-made vaccine from Sinovac Biotech, a drug that, in some tests, was only 50 percent effective against the original coronavirus and is even less so against the delta variant.
Doctors, nurses and hospital associations nationwide have called on the government to protect frontline workers with booster shots of vaccines made by Pfizer Inc. or Moderna Inc., whose effectiveness against the delta variant has measured as high as 88 percent.
But let them eat fruit, Prayut, the man who led the overthrow of the democratically elected Yingluck Shinawatra government and rigged the constitution and most recent elections to remain in power. Maybe it will bost their immune systems.
The fruit purchase contributed to the government’s “Happy Farmers” project to help growers in the North and the South amid oversupply and low produce prices. There is no corresponding “Happy Medical Workers” scheme.
The Commerce Ministry, the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry and Thailand Post promotes online trade in agricultural products via the Thailandpostmart page on Facebook and Thailandpostmart.com of Thailand Post. The campaign covered rambutan from Surat Thani province, mangosteen from Nakhon Si Thammarat and Longan from Phayao.
The Commerce Ministry pays for transport and packages and Thailand Post sends the fruits nationwide free of charge.