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Only 5% of the population have been fully vaccinated

AstraZeneca has asked Thailand to extend the timeline for the delivery of 61 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine by five months, a deputy minister said on Thursday, a move likely to disrupt further the country’s sluggish vaccine rollout.

Deputy Health Minister Sathit Pitutacha said AstraZeneca currently had the capacity to produce 15 million doses of vaccine per month at its production facility in Nonthaburi and that capacity could expand in the future.

The company has promised to deliver 40% of what is produced there inside the country, the deputy health minister said, adding that the government will ask the company for more doses.

“We must negotiate with them because in this situation we need more vaccine,” Mr Sathit said.

“We want 10 million doses because the original plan was 10 million doses,” he said referring to the previous monthly delivery target.

A day earlier, the government said it was considering imposing limits on exports of locally manufactured AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to fight its own outbreak.

The country is suffering its worst outbreak yet and reported a record 98 coronavirus deaths on Thursday, taking total fatalities to 3,032 since the pandemic began last year.

The Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration also reported 9,186 new coronavirus cases, bringing total infections to 372,215.

The main vaccine rollout started last month and only about 5% of the population of more than 66 million people have been fully vaccinated.

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