Thai hospital banned from offer to sell COVID-19 vaccine

Chayut Setboonsarng and Panarat Thepgumpanat
·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Vials and medical syringe are seen in front of Moderna logo in this illustration

By Chayut Setboonsarng and Panarat Thepgumpanat

BANGKOK (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.

(Additional reporting by Jiraporn Kuhakan; writing by Matthew Tostevin; editing by Jason Neely)