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Supply-Chain Obstacles Led to Last Month's Cut to Pfizer's Covid-19 Vaccine-Rollout Target
Pharma giant found raw materials in early production didn't meet its standards

When Pfizer Inc. said last month it expected to ship half the Covid-19 vaccines it had originally planned for this year, the decision highlighted the challenges drug makers face in rapidly building supply chains to meet the high demand.

"Scaling up the raw material supply chain took longer than expected," a company spokeswoman said. "And it's important to highlight that the outcome of the clinical trial was somewhat later than the initial projection."

Pfizer still expects to roll out more than a billion doses in 2021 as originally planned.

Pfizer and Germany-based partner BioNTech SE had hoped to roll out 100 million vaccines world-wide by the end of this year, a plan that was reduced to 50 million on Nov. 9. The U.K. on Wednesday granted emergency-use authorization for the vaccine, becoming the first Western country to start administering doses.

The two-shot vaccine also is being reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S., where a similar authorization could come later this month and a rollout before the end of the year. The U.S. regulator also is considering a vaccine developed by Cambridge, Mass.-based Moderna Inc. that could begin shipping before Christmas.

The doses are among an array of vaccines that have been developed this year as the coronavirus pandemic has raged across much of the world. Authorities estimate nearly 1.5 million people world-wide have died from the virus, including 273,836 in the U.S. as of Dec. 2.

Pfizer had its 100-million dose goal in place until mid-November, when it became clear the supply-chain hurdles were too great for the end-of-the-year timeline.

Pfizer on Nov. 9, in announcing the vaccine candidate the company and BioNTech had developed had proven more than 90% effective in preventing Covid-19 in trial participants, said it expects "to produce globally up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021." That was a step back from its earlier projections for output by the end of the year.

"We were late," said a person directly involved in the development of the Pfizer vaccine. "Some early batches of the raw materials failed to meet the standards. We fixed it, but ran out of time to meet this year's projected shipments."

Pfizer sources its raw materials from providers in the U.S. and Europe. Scaling up production of these components proved challenging last month as the company awaited the results of its trials, which came in to be 95% effective and well-tolerated in a 44,000-subject trial.

full article wsj.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Thais want vaccination when ready
CCSA publishes Covid study results

Most people want to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus, according to a public opinion survey by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA).

A total of 724 people were surveyed from Monday to Friday to determine if members of the public want to be inoculated against Covid-19 when a vaccine is available in Thailand.

A total of 68.9% of respondents expressed their desire to be vaccinated, while 15.2% said they weren't sure. A total of 8.8% of respondents said they had no opinion, while 5.2% said they were certain they would not want to be injected with a vaccine.

A recent Bangkok Poll study surveyed 1,082 people, and most were concerned about the discovery of recent Covid-19 infections brought by citizens who slipped back into the country without undergoing quarantine, referring to recent returnees from Tachileik, a border town in neighbouring Myanmar.

They were also concerned the problem would lead to a new outbreak in the kingdom and subsequently a new lockdown, the poll said.

According to Bangkok Poll, respondents want the government to step up immigration checks along the border and patrol natural corridors often used by people to illegally enter Thailand.

Meanwhile, the Public Health Ministry has revealed the coronavirus strain carried by Thai returnees from Tachileik is the same strain found in India. This particular strain is believed to be easier to transmit. However, the ministry said the spread in Thailand is contained.

Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Department of Disease Control (DDC), said genetic sequencing of samples taken from the infected returnees shows the strain is the same as that found in India but has spread to Myanmar's Tachileik and Thailand.

According to Dr Opas, the novel coronavirus has mutated into a G-strain, which accounts for 80% of Covid-19 infections worldwide.

Analyses suggest the strain can be more easily transmitted than the original one found in China's Wuhan last year.

Dr Opas said that even though the coronavirus mutates, the phenomenon is unlikely to affect the development of vaccines or their effectiveness when given to the public.

"The result of vaccine trials in areas shows that candidate vaccines are more than 70% effective, so the strain is unlikely to make them less effective," he said.

Dr Opas insisted the spread of Covid-19 in the northern region is contained.

He said the number of Covid-19 patients associated with the Tachileik cluster stood at 49 as of yesterday, which indicates efficiency in the stepped-up disease control measures.

These 49 cases are scattered in seven provinces: 37 in Chiang Rai, five in Chiang Mai, three in Bangkok and one each in Phayao, Phichit, Ratchaburi and Sing Buri.

Among them is a group of nightclub workers found to be infected after illegally entering the country late last month.

The issue has prompted Thai authorities to ask Myanmar officials to help arrange the repatriation of Thai nationals there.

Dr Opas said 107 people had crossed the border after arrangements were made, and everyone was tested for Covid-19 before departing.

Of this, five tested positive and were admitted to hospital as they arrived in Thailand.

The rest went straight to quarantine venues, where four tested positive while under isolation, he said.

"The patients have very mild symptoms. The government is prepared to take care of Thais overseas and it is recommended that they return legally for the sake of public health," he said.

Dr Sopon Iamsirithaworn, director of the division of communicable diseases, said yesterday no new local case has turned up following reports about an infection at a Bangkok condominium.

He said the case involved a sixth nurse who contracted the virus and the case had been already reported by the CCSA.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Thai start-up making 'good progress' on Covid vaccine
A Thai pharmaceutical start-up will today sign a deal to produce experimental doses of its Covid-19 vaccine for use in human trials.

Baiya Phytopharm is among several Thai organisations making progress towards a vaccine for the virus, said State Enterprise Development Planning Subcommittee chairman Thewin Wongwanich on Monday.

Thailand has already signed a Bt6 billion procurement deal for 26 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine, but is also building up its own vaccine research programmes.

"One of those with a high success rate is Baiya Phytopharm, a Thai start-up founded by researchers from Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences whose vaccine from plant leaves has passed tests on laboratory animals," said Thewin, who is also the former CEO of PTT.

Baiya Phytopharm will today sign a deal to collaborate with the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation and Kingen Biotech to produce vaccines and conduct tests on humans from April to June next year, he said.

He added that Baiya Phytopharm will launch a Bt500 million fundraising project on Friday (December 18).

"We would like to invite Thais to donate Bt500 each via CU Enterprise to support Thai researchers," he said.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Researchers pin hopes on 'herbal cure'
Mahidol University plans to stage human trials for a herb-based medicine that researchers believe can kill the coronavirus.

The herbal extract comes from a local herb known as Krachai Kao -- or Finger Root -- which is also used as an ingredient in Thai cooking.

"We have studied the herbal plant, which is easily found in the country, so that we can take a further step in large-scale production," said Dr Suradej Hongeng, assistant dean of Research Affairs at the university's Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital.

"We believe Finger Root is the answer and we are now in the process of making it in a drug form to fight Covid-19 in the very near future."

The research team is led by Arunee Thitithanyanont, of Mahidol's Faculty of Science and Dr Suparerk Borwornpinyo, director of the Excellent Centre for Drug Development (ECDD).

Since March the team has researched 120 traditional herbs as possible cures for Covid-19 and a few showed outstanding potential, including Fa Talai Jone (Green chiretta) and Finger Root.

The team has been testing the efficacy of Finger Root since June and previous tests with laboratory hamsters have shown that the active ingredients in Finger root can kill SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

The even better news is that Finger Root can totally kill the virus without causing any harmful side effects, Dr Suradej said.

Dr Suradej said the first human trials would take place next April, followed by others throughout 2021 but he hinted the team would try to fast-track the process by asking the Food and Drug Administration to give emergency approval and if granted, Finger Root pills could be available next year.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Quote from: thaiga on December 19, 2020, 01:51:09 PM
Researchers pin hopes on 'herbal cure'
Mahidol University plans to stage human trials for a herb-based medicine that researchers believe can kill the coronavirus.

The herbal extract comes from a local herb known as Krachai Kao -- or Finger Root -- which is also used as an ingredient in Thai cooking.

krachai or kachai has it's its own distinctive piquant flavor with a tangy fragrance it cannot be mistaken with other members of the ginger family to which it belongs. they say it has so much goodness and cures gout. You'll find it in most markets in Thailand.
Cleaned chopped up boiled, drain the water off mix with lemon, honey to taste. some call it Chinese ginger, a popular ingredient in Thai cooking, certain fish dishes and in some curries.

just a long shot, might be why the cases are much lower here. the different food that is consumed than in the west.
is that wishful thinking  :salute
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Thais take better care of health in 2020: Suan Dusit Poll
Having been heavily affected by various problems in 2020, Thai people have taken better care of their health, according to an opinion survey conducted by the Suan Dusit Rajabhat University or Suan Dusit Poll.

The poll was conducted online on Dec 12-17 on 1,135 people throughout the country to compile their opinions on health issues after they have been severely affected physically and mentally by economic, social and political problems as well as Covid-19 and PM 2.5 dust.

Asked how they have taken care of their health this year, 68% said they have paid more attention on it; 28.90% said they have paid the same attention on their health as well as before; and, 3.00% said they have taken less care of their health.

Regarding health concern, 67.75% said have become more concerned about it; 28.02% said their concern for this matter is the same as before; and, 4.23% have less concern for it.

On the cost of their healthcare, 59.38% said their expense for healthcare has gone up; 37.97% said their healthcare cost has remained unchanged; and, 2.65% said they have spent less on it.

Asked to mention five special attentions they have paid on for health in 2020, their replies were: self-prevention from Covid-19 (89.48%); nutrition (68.52%); exercise (62.33%); supplementary foods (52.08%); and self-prevention from PM 2.5 dust (47.83%).

Asked in what field of knowledge they want to obtain about health, with each respondent allowed to give more than one answer, their answers were: healthcare techniques (71.98%); prevention from Covid-19 (69.69%); prevention from various diseases (62.56%); quality sleep (53.39%) and, how to take care of mental health (46.34%).

Pornphan Buathong, an analyst of Suan Dusit Poll, said the poll result indicates that Thai people have taken more care of their health for wanting to be healthy and not wanting become a burden for other people while their country has been plagued with economic, political and social problems, augmented by Covid-19 and PM 2.5 dust.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Thailand has three runners in global race for COVID-19 vaccine
With COVID-19 vaccines the only hope for humankind's recovery from the virus crisis, Thailand has joined the race to secure effective immunisation.

Coronavirus has so far infected at least 75.5 million people and killed 1.67 million others around the world.

In Thailand, which has seen a new outbreak, the virus has infected some 5,289 people and killed 60.

Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, director-general of the Disease Control Department, said the National Vaccine Board's subcommittee on inoculation will soon come up with a plan to use the limited supply of vaccines with maximum efficiency.

"For example, to minimise COVID-19 deaths we may focus on high-risk groups first, and to minimisethe spread we may prioritise those with a high chance of transmission," Opas explained. "Our healthcare workers will also be among the first to be vaccinated, since if they got infected, who would treat patients?"

On November 27, the Thai government signed a contract to pre-order 26 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca for Bt6 billion. However, since two shots are required, the 26 million doses will only cover 13 million people.

"Thailand's population is close to 70 million. But for the foreseeable future, we can't hope to get as many as 140 million doses of vaccine [needed]," Opasadmitted.

Efforts to secure COVID-19 vaccine

Thailand has been seeking ways to secure vaccines from several different sources, with the AstraZeneca deal being just one of the three approaches it has embraced.

The vaccine developed by Oxford University and its partner AstraZeneca looks set to win health regulators' endorsement very soon. The UK's public health watchdog could pass the vaccine as safe by early January, or even sooner, according to England's chief medical officer Chris Whitty.

Under the contract between Thailand and AstraZeneca, the vaccine technology will be transferred to Siam Bio Science, a Thai firm, to produce 26 million doses.

As well as pinning hopes on AstraZeneca's vaccine, Thailand has joined the World Health Organisation'sCOVAX project, which is a gateway to the Access to the COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator.

ACT Accelerator is a global collaboration to speed up the development, production and access to data on COVID-19 treatment and vaccines.

This project will help some 200 countries negotiate deals with vaccine makers and distribute available doses among member countries.

However, since Thailand is unsure as to when and how many doses it will get via COVAX, it has decided to start developing vaccines itself.

full article thaipbsworld.com
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Samut Sakhon field hospital now functioning
Officials have indicated that a COVID-19 field hospital for migrant workers from Samut Sakhon's central seafood market is now ready for service.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Poll: Health workers 'deserve person of the year'
Covid tops list of news events followed by respondents

Medical doctors and other healthcare workers at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19 deserve to be recognised as Person of the Year in Thailand, according to a public opinion survey.

The poll was conducted among 1,090 people in all parts of the country by Bangkok Poll, run by the Bangkok University Research Centre.

Asked what was the most interesting news story of the year, 87.5% said news coverage about Covid-19 and lockdowns topped the charts.

Even in the foreign news category, the pandemic was rated as the most interesting issue for 79.4% of respondents.

When asked which of the government's Covid-19 relief measures they like the most, 44.6% said the co-payment scheme.

The 50-50 co-payment scheme subsidises purchases at small shops, with the government paying 50% of the amount or up to 150 baht per day, to a maximum of 3,000 baht per person, from Oct 23 to Dec 31. A second three-month phase to start on Jan 1 raises the ceiling too 3,500 baht.

Living life in the "new normal" era brought about by the pandemic was the most challenging task this year for 77.9% of people surveyed.

The second most challenging change was limiting the use of plastic bags, according to the poll.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


December 27, 2020
Thai hospital banned from offer to sell COVID-19 vaccine
(Reuters) - A private Thai hospital was ordered on Sunday to stop advertising COVID-19 vaccinations for sale in advance on the grounds that no vaccine is yet approved in Thailand.

Vibhavadi Hospital told Reuters its online offer for 1,000 initial reservations for the two-dose Moderna vaccine had been the result of a misunderstanding. With reservations priced at 4,000 baht, the total cost of getting vaccinated would have been 10,000 baht ($330).

As the first governments begin vaccine rollouts around the world, questions have been raised over how the limited supplies are prioritised and whether people will be able to pay to jump the queue.

The Ministry of Health said in a statement that no COVID-19 vaccine had been approved for use in Thailand yet and that advertising one violated hospital regulations.

"The removal of the advertisement was ordered," it said.

Chaisit Kupwiwat, a director at Vibhavadi Hospital, told Reuters: "There was a misunderstanding and so we've stopped the programme... We planned to order the vaccines, but now we've stopped."

The hospital had sought reservations by Jan. 31 for vaccinations later in 2021.

Moderna did not respond immediately to an emailed request for comment on any such sale.

Thailand has signed an advance deal for AstraZeneca's potential COVID-19 vaccine, but has not set rollout plans for any vaccine yet.

Moderna's vaccine this month became the second to get emergency use authorisation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine.

Moderna has said it will deliver approximately 20 million doses to the U.S. government this year and is expected to have between 100 million and 125 million delivered globally in the first quarter of 2021.

In August, Moderna said it was pricing its vaccine at $32 to $37 per dose for smaller deals.

Thailand is a major hub for medical tourism, drawing patients from Asia, the Middle East and beyond.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Race to finish field hospital, more planned

Another field hospital is set up at Samut Sakhon's provincial stadium. It is to be a quarantine venue for migrant workers and treat Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms. About 200 beds are expected to be ready on Monday with the number of beds expected to increase to 500 later in the week. Apichit Jinakul

Workers were Sunday racing against time to transform the provincial stadium in Muang district into a field hospital with a capacity of 540 beds.

According to the plan, the field hospital will open to care for some of the 4,000 Myanmar workers who are under quarantine in the Central Shrimp Market area which is the epidemic centre. The 14-day quarantine will end today.

If tests find no or just small amount of immunity in the quarantined workers, they will be sent there.

But if they already have immunity, they can enjoy the freedom outside the quarantined area.

The giant tents include at least 24 toilets, and relaxation zones with TV and free WiFi. The relaxation areas will be under the surveillance of close-circuit cameras.

Symptoms of those infected with Covid-19 will be monitored here.

Doctors will use telemedicine technologies (no contact with the ill) to check on patients who develop stronger symptoms, before deciding whether to send them to hospital or let them be treated in the zone set aside for the infected.

Zones are identified: simply monitored, mild symptoms, and more severe symptoms.

In principle, the workers are expected to stay at the field hospital for 14 days.

Samut Sakhon governor Verasak Vichitsangsri said the province is now ready to open the field hospital, adding he is confident the place is safe and will contain the outbreak.

"The field hospital is in front of my house so I am confident that it is 1,000% safe," Mr Verasak said. "It is a key factor indicating the province's success to control the virus.

"We are now on the right track to control the disease, in which the number of infections has reduced from 44% to 12% [of those tested] on average. But the number is still high from eight cases [in the beginning] to over 1,000 cases now."

The province has faced a long delay to set up the field hospital, originally in the Central Shrimp Market area, due to protests by locals who feared disease transmission to their community.

Along with creating a better understanding, the province will announce regulations paving the way to have more field hospitals.

At least three field hospitals will need to be set up, the governor said.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul inspected the field hospital and visited the Central Shrimp Market on Sunday. He was welcomed by the Myanmar workers.

A representative voiced appreciation to the medical team taking care of them and promised not to escape the quarantine.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Thailand could manufacture COVID-19 vaccine by the end of 2021
The Faculty of Medicine of Chulalongkorn University is expected to begin the first phase of candidate COVID-19 vaccine trials in humans next April. Should the vaccine candidate pass phase 1 and 2 trials, and the efficacy and safety assessments, the large scale production could begin in late 2021.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


How well does the Oxford vaccine work? What we know so far
What is the latest news?
The UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has approved the vaccine developed by Oxford University and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, with the rollout beginning on 4 January.

How does this vaccine work?
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is based on a harmless chimp cold virus that cannot grow inside human cells. Scientists have tweaked this virus so that it carries genetic material containing the instructions for a protein of the coronavirus. Once the vaccine has been administered, our bodies produce the coronavirus protein, triggering an immune response.

How well does it work?
That depends. Two doses of the vaccine, four weeks apart, are needed to offer the best protection against Covid. However, a dosing error led to the serendipitous finding that when clinical trial participants were given half a dose followed by full dose, the vaccine had a higher efficacy than when participants were given two full doses, with 90% efficacy in the former case and 62% efficacy in the latter.

The results were met with both curiosity and caution – not least since the group given a half dose followed by a full dose was considerably smaller than the group given two full doses, and did not include participants aged over 55.

The controversy led AstraZeneca to announce in November a new global trial of the vaccine with the half dose/full dose regime

However, researchers have stressed that regardless of which dosing regime was used, none of the trial participants developed severe Covid or had to go into hospital with the disease after having just one dose of the vaccine. In addition, scientists say data from almost 24,000 trial participants showed only three serious safety events possibly related to a vaccine, at least one of which occurred in the control group, while both older and younger participants showed a similar immune response to the jab.

As with the mRNA vaccine from Pfizer/BioNTech, which has already been approved by the UK, US and EU, and which has 95% efficacy after two doses, it is currently unclear how long protection induced by the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine lasts.

And while there are some early signs the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine might not only prevent people becoming seriously ill with Covid but also prevent asymptomatic infections, more data is needed to confirm such protection.

Is the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine really a 'gamechanger'?
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is certainly expected to be a key component of the UK's vaccination programme, and is the cornerstone of hopes for global vaccination.

While the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine has already gained regulatory approval, and been administered to more than 600,000 people in the UK so far, it has posed a logistical challenge as the vaccine must be stored and transported at -70C and can only be stored in regular medical refrigerators at 2C-8C for up to five days.

By contrast, the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine can be transported and stored at 2C-8C for up to six months, making it much easier to move around the country and administer in settings such as care homes, local pharmacies and prisons. It also makes it suitable for use in rural areas and countries where access to ultra-low temperature storage is a problem.

In addition, while the UK government ordered 40m doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, it has ordered 100m doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab, of which 4m are available straight away, and 40m expected by the end of March.

And there is a financial side: the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine costs about $3-4 per shot, compared with $20 for the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, with the former being made on a not-for-profit basis for the duration of the pandemic.

But Prof Adam Finn, a vaccine expert at the University of Bristol and an investigator on the Oxford trial, said it was important to have a range of vaccines available, including those from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna.

"We need to find out what happens when we combine these different types of vaccine in the same person – perhaps we can get broader, stronger or more long-lasting immunity given one followed by the other," he said, adding other kinds of vaccines were also in the pipeline, including some based on whole inactivated virus.

Prof Danny Altmann of Imperial College London agreed that several vaccines would be necessary, not least to ensure a large enough supply, but cautioned against comparing them at present, noting there was still much to learn about how the different vaccines performed.

"There is still an enormously steep mountain of vaccination to climb – nationally and globally – before any of us can feel safe and return to normal," he said.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Herbal Covid treatment cleared, vaccine registration opens
Health officials said Thailand is ready to register Covid-19 vaccines after separately approving the use of a herbal plant extract to treat early stages of the disease as a pilot program amid a flareup in the coronavirus outbreak across the country.

Andrographis Paniculata, commonly known as green chiretta, will serve as an alternative treatment to reduce the severity of the outbreak and cut treatment costs, the health ministry said in a statement Wednesday. The treatment will be available in five state-owned hospitals initially, it said.

Thailand reported 250 new cases on Wednesday, taking the nation's total to almost 7,000, and a government official said the rate of increase in local transmissions was alarming and urged people to stay at home to prevent the virus from spreading further. The government has also banned large gatherings in high-risk areas, said Taweesilp Witsanuyotin, a spokesperson for the national Covid-19 response centre.

The herbal treatment will be on a voluntary basis for those in the 18-60 age group with minor symptoms and should be within 72 hours of confirming infections

The extract from the plant, known as Fah Talai Jone in Thai, can curb the virus and reduce the severity of inflammation, the ministry said, citing studies.

Human trials showed patient conditions improved within three days of the treatment without side effects if the medicine is administered within 72 hours of testing positive.

Separately, the Thai Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it's ready to register Covid-19 vaccines.

The FDA has opened a special channel for the registration to ensure speedy processing.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Thailand to get 2m doses of vaccine from Feb: Anutin
The first batch of 2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine will arrive in Thailand from February, said Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on Thursday.

The first group of Thais to be vaccinated will be community public health volunteers, as they are in the front line of the virus battle, said Anutin. He has instructed the Food and Drug Administration to prepare regulations for the vaccine's approval.

Anutin did not identify the manufacturer of Thailand's first batch but said the ministry had negotiated a purchase price of US$17 per dose. Next week it will ask the Cabinet to approve a Bt1.17 billion budget for procurement of the 2 million doses.

The ministry had also made efforts to procure vaccine from as many sources as possible, said Anutin.

The ministry is negotiating with AstraZeneca for an additional 26 million doses on top of the purchase agreement in November for the first batch of 26 million doses.

Thailand is currently struggling with a fresh outbreak of the virus.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Covid-19 vaccination begins next month
Govt outlines three phases for inoculations
The government has set three phases of Covid-19 vaccination for citizens, with the first phase to cover 1 million people in vulnerable groups from February to April, the chief of the Disease Control Department said on Thursday.

Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, the director-general, said the first phase would involve 2 million doses, and be used to reduce the rate of severe illness and death from Covid-19 and to maintain the national health system.

The 2-million-dose vaccination was set from February to April. It would be for 80,000 medical personnel and health volunteers, 20,000 disease control workers, 900,000 people aged 60 and over, and people with chronic diseases.

The first recipients would be in Samut Sakhon province, greater Bangkok and the eastern provinces of Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat, which had high levels of infection and had been declared maximum control zones, he said.

People with chronic disease who may otherwise die after Covid-19 infection included those with severe respiratory illnesses such chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, cardiovascular disease, renal failure of stage 5 and over, stroke, diabetes and all kinds of cancer.

Medical personnel to be vaccinated were those likely to be in contact with Covid-19 patients. Disease control workers included officials at border checkpoints, disease control areas along the border and field hospitals.

The second phase would involve 26 million doses to be given to people in vulnerable groups nationwide in May and June, to protect the national economy, society and security.

The third phase, set for later this year to early next year, would involve vaccinating enough of the general population to develop herd immunity and stop the spread of Covid-19 at community level.

Each person would need two doses, four weeks apart. It would take 1-2 months for the vaccine to have full effect, Dr Opas said.

He also said that new Covid-19 cases were tending to slow down, while recoveries were increasing.

Covid-19 had spread in 56 provinces, most of them with1-2 patients, and 10% of people in close contact with patients also tested positive. Covid-19 could be controlled in the majority of the provinces, he said.

Of 5,381 Covid-19 patients recorded in the second wave since Dec 15, the majority were in Samut Sakhon (2,905), followed by 1,523 in the eastern provinces of Chon Buri, Chanthaburi and Trat, and 473 in Bangkok.

Covid-19 was mainly spreading in the Central Plain, the East and the West: Samut Sakhon, Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi, Trat, greater Bangkok, the disease control chief said.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.


Pfizer, BioNTech boost vaccine output goal by more than 50%
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE plan to produce 2 billion doses of their coronavirus vaccine this year, boosting previously expected output by more than 50% in response to surging global demand.

The companies have already agreed to deliver more than 1 billion doses in pacts with various countries, BioNTech said in a presentation at the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference on Monday. The European Union last week sealed a deal to double its supply of Pfizer-BioNTech shots to as many as 600 million, while the U.S. has locked in a total of 200 million doses.

Vaccine supply has been under scrutiny as faster-spreading virus variants emerge and the distribution effort in the U.S. faces strains. Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine is intended to be given in two doses 21 days apart. But some countries, including the U.K., have elected to stretch out the time between shots in an effort to immunize more people as virus cases soar.

Previously, Pfizer and BioNTech had expected to produce 1.3 billion doses this year. While the companies plan to ramp up output with the help of contract manufacturers, the new target also takes into account a label change that allows doctors to extract six doses instead of five from each vaccine vial, BioNTech said.

The change "increases the number of vaccine doses 20% overnight," BioNTech Chief Executive Officer Ugur Sahin said at the JPMorgan conference.

Representatives for Pfizer didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

A new production site in Marburg, Germany, expected to become operational by the end of February, will be able to make as many as 750 million doses per year, according to the presentation. BioNTech said it's also seeking to add suppliers and contract manufacturers and improve its production processes. Sahin expects that in years to come as the covid-19 pandemic shifts to an endemic, where the disease persists, recipients of the Pfizer-BioNTech will likely need additional boosters.

The partners had shipped 32.9 million vaccine doses as of Jan. 10, BioNTech said. Some of the 50 million shots produced in 2020 remain in deep-freeze storage because countries weren't yet ready to receive them, a BioNTech spokeswoman said. For example, 12.5 million doses of last year's production capacity were reserved for the EU, but since the bloc's approval of the vaccine came late in the year, not all were shipped.

The promise for a production boost comes as U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden's team has said he'll distribute more of the available vaccine doses once he takes office, rather than holding back half of existing supply to guarantee the second shots needed to reach maximum potency.

The move, backed by a group of Democratic governors, represents a gamble that there will be enough supply to ensure timely second shots. Some public-health officials have said that the change could lead to gaps in dosing, or for some people to miss their second doses entirely.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Johnnie F.

There is an interesting article on Thai Enquirer about vaccines and political game or corruption. Allegedly Thailand has refused to accept 2 m doses of vaccines from India at cost, rather pays more than the market price from other suppliers.

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