Asia Pacific

AstraZeneca scours supply chain for more vaccine doses for Thailand, SE Asia

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People receive the first dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Central Vaccination Center, inside the Bang Sue Grand Station, Thailand, June 21, 2021. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

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BANGKOK, July 24 (Reuters) - AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) is "scouring" its global supply chain to try and boost COVID-19 vaccine supplies to Thailand and Southeast Asia, its representative for the country said on Saturday, amidst speculations of local production shortfalls.

The comments come after leaked letters showed last week that the drugmaker had offered to supply 5-6 million vaccine doses a month to Thailand, contradicting assertions by Thai officials that the government is owed 10 million a month and 61 million doses by end-2021. read more

AstraZeneca is "scouring the 20+ supply chains in our worldwide manufacturing network to find additional vaccines for Southeast Asia, including Thailand", James Teague, managing director of AstraZeneca Thailand, said in a statement.

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"We are hopeful of importing additional doses in the months ahead," he added.

The drugmaker had previously said vaccine doses for Thailand and Southeast Asia would come from a plant of its Thai partner Siam Bioscience, owned by Thailand's king and a first-time vaccine maker.

Pressure has been mounting on the company after Thailand said it was considering imposing limits on exports of locally manufactured AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to shore up domestic supplies, a move that could hit its neighbours, some of which are battling similar or more severe COVID-19 crises. read more

Siam Bioscience has not commented on reports of production shortfalls or delivery timelines.

Teague said AstraZeneca has delivered 9 million does so far to Thailand and will deliver 2.3 million more next week.

Thailand has fully inoculated just 5.56% of its population of more than 66 million so far, while 18.62% have received at least one dose, government data shows.

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Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Kay Johnson and Himani Sarkar

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