Yet again, vaccines are the hot button issue of the day, after a leaked document showed the Thai army attempting to backdoor its way into procuring Moderna vaccines for its personnel.
On July 22, the Thai Military Correspondent Department requested, via letter, some of the limited supply of Moderna vaccines being administered by the Thai Red Cross be allocated for military personnel and their relatives. After the document was leaked, rage ensued.
“When the Thai Red Cross fast tracked the vaccine requests from us, it said it would provide the vaccines for socially disadvantaged groups. Now, the question is how personnel from the Thai Military Correspondent Department qualify as vulnerable. The Thai Red Cross must publicly reject this request and must not let anything like this happen again,” wrote Sleeplessbkk, a Twitter user with 21,000 followers. The post has been retweeted over 3,500 times at time of publication.
While some pro-military supporters dismissed the request as fake and even threatened to file lawsuits against whomever published it, the document has since been confirmed as legitimate, official stamp, registry number, and all.
“It is not fake, but it is not official either,” Wassana Nanuam, a news reporter covering military affairs for the Bangkok Post who contacted the department to verify the document’s existence, wrote in a Twitter post.
“While avoiding using the word ‘fake,’ they explained that the document isn’t in the [proper] format to send to other external departments. The military will look into this and make an announcement by tomorrow.”
Thailand’s vaccine situation has drawn criticism from many in the public domain.
Some doubt the state-funded vaccine campaign will progress as promised by government officials, some are worn out by divisions in the government ranks becoming public, and others have been angered by reports showing Sinovac, the bedrock of the Thai campaign so far, to be less effective against Covid-19 variants. Many in Thailand are anxiously waiting for mRNA vaccines to arrive.
The Thai government recently signed a deal with Pfizer to procure 20 million vaccines by the end of the year. The U.S. government, meanwhile, has donated 1.5 million doses of the Pfizer jab to the country, many of which have been earmarked as booster shots for frontline healthcare workers.
The Moderna procurement, on the other hand, has been about as clear as the Chao Phraya. Some private hospitals have offered pre-sales for Moderna jabs, which were initially expected to arrive between October and December. Those doses have since been carved up like Hyman Roth’s birthday cake
, with the Thai Red Cross now in charge of administering one million of them and the rest yet to be determined, despite payments consumers have made through hospitals.
Today Thailand again shattered its daily record of Covid-19 cases with 14,575. Over 15 million shots have been administered, the vast majority being first jabs.
Correction: An earlier version stated that over 11 million shots had been administered. The real number is just over 15 million. We regret the mistake.