Thailand to ‘fully reopen in 120 days,’ prime minister promises

  • Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced Thailand will “fully reopen within 120 days” during a televised address on 16 Jun 21 evening.
  • Prayuth said the unilateral decision had been taken on the basis of “signed reservation and supply contracts for 105.5 million [COVID-19 vaccine] doses to be delivered in 2021 … putting us ahead of our target for vaccine supplies.”
  • The vaccines, he said, will be administered at the rate of 10 million doses per month from Jul 21 and supplied by Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna, as well as Astra-Zeneca, Sinovac and Sinopharm.
  • Only limited supplies of the Oxford-AstraZeneca and two Chinese vaccines have been available in Thailand.
  • The Thai-made AstraZeneca vaccine debuted earlier in Jun 21, but there have been concerns about supplies after mass inoculations scheduled in Bangkok were pushed back indefinitely. There have also been reports of delayed shipments of the vaccine to Taiwan, the Philippines and Malaysia.
  • Prayuth said the decision to reopen in Oct 21 will only be revisited if “a truly serious situation develops or seems likely to develop, and we will look at those situations on a case-by-case basis.”
  • “We cannot wait for a time when everyone is fully vaccinated with two shots to open the country or for when the world is free of the virus,” he said. “We must be ready to live with some risk and just try to keep it at a manageable level, and let people go back to being able to earn a living. That is the policy that I have set.”
  • After one of the most successful national programs to keep COVID-19 at bay in 2020, Thailand has been hit by a resurgence of the virus in 2021, leading to heavy criticism of the government for its failure to order vaccines to ensure a steady rollout.

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