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Thai govt hits back at Covax vaccine alliance critics

Government spokesman Anucha Buraphachaisri, responding to media reports that Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country to skip the WHO’s Covax scheme, said that as a middle-income country Thailand is not eligible for free or cheap vaccines under the program.

“Buying vaccines directly from the manufacturers is an appropriate choice… as it’s more flexible,” Mr Anucha said.

“If Thailand wants to join the Covax programme, it will have to pay for vaccines itself with a high budget and there is also a risk,” he said, adding the country had to make an advance payment without knowing the source of vaccines and delivery dates. He did not specify the costs.

In all, 190 countries including have joined Covax, which aims to ensure equitable access to vaccines during the pandemic. The scheme is jointly run by the GAVI alliance, the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and Unicef.

Thailand so far has not received or produced any vaccines, even as many neighbours have started inoculations.

The government reported 166 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, taking the total of infections to 24,571, with a death toll of 80.

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