Thais resell private COVID-19 vaccination slots as free supplies build

A medical worker prepares a syringe with a dose of China's Sinovac coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine at the Central Vaccination Center, inside the Bang Sue Grand Station, in Bangkok, Thailand, May 24, 2021. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

BANGKOK, Dec 20 (Reuters) - Some Thais who had scrambled to book private hospital appointments to receive the Moderna (MRNA.O) COVID-19 vaccine have taken to social media to resell their slots after an influx of free government-supplied shots in recent weeks.

A Facebook group with about 4,800 members, called Moderna First Lot Reservations, had users selling doses for around 1,000 baht ($29.82) with some offering to buy shots for as low as 800 baht, down from an original price of 1,650 baht.

"People can transfer, extend or sell their bookings, but seeking big profits was not suitable," Private Hospital Association President, Chalerm Harnpanich, told Reuters.

One Twitter user offered four doses of the Moderna vaccine for 1,450 baht each.

"I booked them for my family, but they have been vaccinated so I'm letting them go," the user posted on Sunday evening.

Thailand's vaccine drive got off to a slow start in June with supply shortages, confusion over registration and other delays.

The Government Pharmaceutical Organization at the time ordered five million doses of Moderna for private hospitals. As coronavirus cases surged, people rushed to make reservations, snapping up pre-orders within minutes.

But in recent months the government's free programme using Pfizer-BioNTech (PFE.N)(22UAy.DE) and AstraZeneca (AZN.L) has gained pace, while coronavirus cases have also fallen after peaking in August.

Thailand has reported a total of 2.2 million infections and 24,408 deaths.

About 61% of Thailand's estimated 72 million people living in the country have received two doses.

Pfizer vaccines arrived in September and later the government announced its main programme would be a combination of AstraZeneca and Pfizer shots.

Chalerm said his Bangkok Chain Hospital Pcl (BCH.BK) has administered around 260,000 Moderna shots so far and that the time gap for booster doses has been shortened due to concerns over the Omicron variant. Thailand on Monday reported its first local transmission of the variant.

($1 = 33.5300 baht)

Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Ed Davies

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