WHO ranks Thai vaccine regulatory standard as high

Thailand’s new vaccine ecosystem has made incredibly rapid gains. The World Health Organization (WHO) ranked the Kingdom’s vaccine regulatory system at Level 3 last week, its second highest classification.

The ranking is an impressive achievement given that the Kingdom had almost no experience producing vaccines before the COVID-19 pandemic and it just ramped up production of the AstraZeneca vaccine in a matter of months, passing all quality tests from the British manufacturer and global health authorities.

The WHO’s top ranking, Level 4, is reserved for countries with an advanced vaccine regulatory system and evidence of continuous improvement. Attaining that ranking requires time and experience.

Level 3 countries have a stable, well-functioning and integrated regulatory system for vaccine production. A WHO team used the UN agency’s Global Benchmarking Tool (GBT) to review the quality, safety and efficacy of vaccines produced in the Kingdom to arrive at the ranking.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed delight upon news of the ranking and praised all the Kingdom’s medical and healthcare workers for their part in building the public health system.

The Kingdom would keep working to make its public health system even more advanced and comprehensive. Medical and health research are a priority sector, along with medical goods manufacturing, in the Kingdom’s development plans.

A Thai company, Siam Bioscience, secure an agreement with AstraZeneca to produce its COVID-19 vaccine in the middle of last year. The company built a new facility to produce the vaccine and the first doses started rolling out in  spring.

Production has now been ramped up and most people in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, have been vaccinated. Distribution is now moving upcountry. Thailand has also secured imports of the Pfizer, Sinovac and Sinopharm vaccines to make up the gap while Siam Bioscience increases its output.