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Prayut, AstraZeneca Clear Air Over Delivery of Covid-19 Vaccine

Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha AstraZeneca CEO Soriot Video Confernence Zoom Call

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the CEO of AstraZeneca Plc. met virtually Monday after weeks of acrimony over the delivery of its flagship coronavirus vaccine to Thailand.

Prayut and Pascal Soriot discussed ongoing collaboration on Thailand’s efforts against the pandemic and how many doses of the vaccine produced locally by Siam Bioscience Co. will be provided to the kingdom.

The government said the discussion included the topic of accelerated deliveries of the vaccine, with the aim of delivering 61 million doses by the end of this year. The company will continue to work closely with the Department of Disease Control to support the mass vaccination program, the government said.

The Public Health Ministry and AstraZeneca have engaged in a war of words for weeks over how many doses of the crucial vaccine Thailand originally requested and AstraZeneca would deliver monthly.

After AstraZeneca said production problems would allow it to produce less than 5 million doses of the vaccine for Thailand monthly, ministry officials said AstraZeneca was obligated to deliver six million doses a month.

AstraZeneca then produced a copy of a letter from Thai officials requesting only 3.5 million doses a month.

The government now claims AstraZeneca will deliver the desired 6 million doses a month.

A government statement said Prayut and Soriot also discussed a second-generation AstraZeneca vaccine modified to prevent infection and illness from variants like beta and delta, which have ravaged Thailand since April.

The company’s original Covid-19 vaccine, (ChAdOx1-S [Recombinant]), formerly AZD1222, was co-invented by the University of Oxford and its spin-off company, Vaccitech.

It uses a replication-deficient chimpanzee viral vector based on a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus) that causes infections in chimpanzees and contains the genetic material of the SARS-CoV-2 virus spike protein.

After vaccination, the surface spike protein is produced, priming the immune system to attack the SARS-CoV-2 virus if it later infects the body.

This story contains reporting from the National News Bureau of Thailand.