Johnson & Johnson seeks Thai approval for COVID vaccine

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Johnson & Johnson is seeking Thailand’s approval for its COVID-19 vaccine, a senior Thai health official told Reuters on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Johnson & Johnson logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

The request makes J&J’s one-dose vaccine the third COVID-19 vaccine to seek registration with Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after requests from AztraZeneca Plc and China Sinovac Biotech.

Last month, Thailand’s FDA granted a one year emergency use approval for imported AstraZeneca’s vaccine.

J&J had started the request process for its vaccine late last month, but the timing of any approval will depend on when the company submitted all required documents, Surachoke Tangwiwat, Deputy Secretary-General of the FDA, said.

“They have submitted some documents for us to assess,” Surachoke said.

“We can proceed with the approval within 30 days after all documents are submitted,” he said.

J&J did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Thai health authorities have previously said the first 50,000 doses of imported vaccine from AztraZeneca and 200,000 doses from China’s Sinovac will arrive in February, although Surachoke said Sinovac had not yet submitted all the documents required for FDA approval.

Thailand’s government has received high marks internationally for managing for the most part to suppress the virus in 2020, but opposition groups have criticized its vaccine strategy as too slow and lacking transparency.

The government has said it is on track for mass inoculations beginning in June, largely using 61 million locally made doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, backed up by limited supplies of imported AztraZeneca vaccine and two million doses of the Sinovac vaccine to be administered earlier.

Thailand reported 836 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, including a 26-day-old baby, its youngest ever patient, the government’s COVID-19 task force said.

The country also reported two new deaths, taking the total case load to 20,454 infections and 79 deaths.

Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um, Panarat Thepgumpanat and Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Martin Petty and Ed Davies