Thailand has shown an interest in joining the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (Avat) to donate Covid-19 vaccines to the continent.
This comes amid the spread of Omicron, deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said yesterday.
Ms Traisuree said she had been briefed by Deputy Prime Minister and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul who attended a session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) over the past week in Geneva, Switzerland.
Ms Traisuree said Mr Anutin met Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation (WHO), to discuss having Thailand join the WHO BioHub System to enhance the rapid sharing of viruses and other pathogens between laboratories and partners globally.
The WHO BioHub System will offer a reliable, safe and transparent mechanism for WHO states to share novel biological materials without replacing or competing with existing systems. It is not clear if this will enhance local tracking of Omicron, seen as key to establishing if the virus variant has arrived in this country yet.
The sharing of biological materials with pandemic potential will be done through one or more of the laboratories designated as a WHO BioHub facility, she said.
This will allow WHO states and partners to work better and faster,to advance research, be more prepared for health emergencies and ensure fairness in access to benefits.
Ms Traisuree said Mr Anutin had told the WHO director-general that Thailand has sufficient supplies of Covid-19 vaccines and the country is interested in donating vaccine doses to African countries where the vaccine uptake is low.
She said Dr Ghebreyesus suggested Thailand should join the Avat to ensure widespread access to Covid-19 vaccines across Africa.
“He [Mr Anutin] will raise the matter with Gen Prayut later about joining the Avat as soon as possible,” Ms Traisuree said.
They also exchanged experiences about cross-vaccination where people are given doses from different manufacturers, as well as participation in the Universal Health Preparedness and Response (UHPR) system to exchange experiences of Thailand’s universal healthcare system including local measures to deal with emergency cases.
During the meeting, Ms Traisuree said Mr Anutin suggested establishing an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) to elevate pandemic preparedness and response, as well as contributing to strengthening international health regulations.
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