The Thai government plans to immunize 19 million Thai citizens against the coronavirus in a first phase of inoculations, starting on Feb 14.
Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said inoculations will begin with 50,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
He gave no timeline for the first phase and apologized for the government’s slow roll out of the vaccine.
Thailand will have received 150,000 doses from AstraZeneca by May, he told reporters.
However, In a broadcast carried on the government’s website, Gen Prayut apologized for not solving Covid-19 related problems as fast as the public had demanded.
“Blaming each other will not solve any problems,” he said.
Of the 19 million to be vaccinated, 11 million would be people aged over 60 and 6.1 million would be those with underlying diseases, he said.
Another 1.7 million would be for medical professionals and 15,000 government workers involved in managing the virus, he said, adding those under 18 and pregnant women would not be vaccinated. About a fifth of the population is under 18.
Meanwhile, the government reported one new Covid-19 related death, raising the total to 76, and 819 new cases – 808 local infections and 11 imported.
Taweesilp Visanuyothin, spokesman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration, said the latest fatality was a Thai man aged 56 who had previously suffered a stroke and was bed-ridden.
The man became fatigued, was panting for breath and had excessive phlegm on Jan 22, and was taken to Krathumbaen Hospital in Krathumbaen district of Samut Sakhon.
The patient was placed on a ventilator, admitted to a negative pressure room and tested for Covid-19. It returned positive on Jan 23. His condition remained critical and he died about 10pm on Monday.
Most schools through the Kingdom of Thailand will also reopen next week.
The government said it would reopen most schools – including those in Bangkok – from next week, in response to localised declines in new coronavirus infections.
The education ministry ordered schools closed in 28 provinces at the beginning of January.
It will restart classes in all but one of those from Monday, Education Minister Nathapol Teepsuwan told reporters.
The move follows an easing of some curbs last week in Bangkok, including on some sports and leisure activities, but bars and night entertainment venues remain closed.
Top: Coronavirus vaccine from AstraZeneca developed by the University of Oxford. Photo: Marco Verch professional photographer (CC BY 2.0)