A leaked document of the health ministry in Thailand has raised doubts about the efficacy of Sinovac Biotech's vaccine. The memo intended for internal use included an opinion that mRNA vaccine shouldn't be given a boost because that could bring down people's confidence in China's Sinovac vaccine.
The Bangkok Post stated that the memo was taken from a meeting held between an academic committee on communicable disease control, a sub-committee on immunization and a working academic panel on vaccine management on June 30. The meeting was organized to discuss the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine.
Netizens started taking the memo more seriously when Thailand's Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul confirmed that the document was authentic. So, does that mean Sinovac is less effective than Pfizer vaccine? Here is what the memo stated.
The memo included opinions from a number of in-house health experts. One of the writers of the opinion recommended the authorities not to give a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine to frontline health workers because such a move would mean that the ministry was admitting that the Sinovac vaccine was not effective.
Netizens Start Online Campaign
So far, Thailand has administered Sinovac's vaccine to most of its health workers. The study by the health ministry had shown that the Sinovac doses were 95 percent effective in reducing the risk of death. According to the study, Sinovac's vaccine was effective with Alpha variant of COVID-19 as it showed 71 percent to 91 percent efficiency in stopping the infection.
As soon as the memo was leaked, netizens started an online campaign #GivePfizertomedicalpersonnel. Netizens demanded not to put the lives of health workers in danger by administering them with Sinovac vaccine. In one day alone more than 624,000 people tweeted using the hashtag supporting the Pfizer vaccine.
Soon, netizens were confused as one of the senior health officials, Opas Karnkawinpong, addressed the media and told that the document was fake. His statement contradicted Health Minister Anutin's confirmation of the authenticity of the leaked memo.
However, Anutin said that the comment on boosting the vaccine was just an opinion of an individual. He said that the vaccine policy was set by an expert panel. He also supported the Sinovac's vaccine and said that two doses of Sinovac vaccine were effective and delivered results beyond the standard.
Currently, Thailand mainly depends on AstraZeneca shots, locally manufactured by royal-owned company Siam BioScience. Reports claim that Moderna's mRNA vaccine will also be available soon in the country. Reuters reported that Thailand will get 20 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The US will also be sending 1.5 million doses of Pfizer vaccine by the end of July.