Thailand’s Vaccine Strategy: What went wrong?

Last year Thailand won worldwide praise for its effective measures to contain COVID-19. This year the government is facing growing public outrage over the failure to control new covid outbreaks, and the slow acquisition of vaccines.

Some embassies have had to source vaccines for their own citizens over concerns they may otherwise have to wait too long for the Thai vaccine rollout to reach them. Where did a government that seemed so successful last year go wrong?

Some have suggested complacency, an official belief after months with very few new infections that Thailand had more time before it would need to deploy vaccines.

Questions are being asked

Questions are being asked, and not answered, over the decision to rely almost entirely on Siam Bioscience, a local, palace-owned company with no experience of making vaccines, for the country’s vaccine needs, until an unseemly scramble began this year to procure alternatives.

Bureaucr…

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Southeast Asia Covid-19 Latest News

The Delta variant has ripped through Southeast Asia in recent weeks, undoing many countries’ progress against the Covid-19 pandemic. Indonesia has been hit especially hard.

The spiraling crisis in Indonesia—and worsening situations in Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam, which are all experiencing their highest rate of case growth since the start of the pandemic—is a sad reminder that even as vaccines are rolled out in the United States and Europe, the Covid-19 pandemic has not abated elsewhere.

Already arguably the most impacted country in the region prior to the current wave, the rate of new cases in Indonesia has spiked to its worst level since the pandemic began, more than quadrupling in less than a month. But the devastation has gone beyond official case counts.

One in four people who take a Covid-19 test in Indonesia come back positive, and the percentage of deaths per positive case increased to 2.6 percent this week, the highes…

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How Businesses in Singapore can Reduce Overhead Costs During the Pandemic

Singapore’s government has provided an array of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to help businesses reduce their overhead costs during the pandemic.

The government is expected to draw on S$53.7 billion (US$40 billion) from its reserves for this year and an additional S24 billion (US$17.8 billion) over the next three years to assist local companies transition into a post-pandemic business environment.

Moreover, the government has decided to delay the increase in the goods and sales tax (GST) for 2021 in addition to developing programs to assist businesses to accelerate their digital transformation.

The JSS program was launched in 2020 to offset local employees’ wages and protect jobs.

Under this scheme, the government co-funds a portion of the first S$4,600 (US$3,428) of an employee’s gross monthly wages. The co-funding varies between sectors.

Firms are classified into different tier groups (Tier 1, 2, 3, 3A, and 3B), whi…

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Thai exports Record 45.9% Growth in May

BANGKOK (NNT) – The Commerce Ministry reported on Thursday (24 June) that Thai exports recorded their fastest expansion in 11 years during May, driven by strong global demand and economic recovery in trading partners, as the government continues aggressive promotion efforts.

Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanavisit said exports jumped by 45.9% in May, after a 25.7% growth in April and a 12% rise in March, and are maintaining a healthy growth momentum. The expansion was partly attributed to the ministry’s export promotion plans this year, in addition to the robust global economic recovery, especially in the manufacturing sector

Outbound shipments earned more than 20 billion USD for the fourth consecutive month and recorded the highest growth rate since June 2010. Products recording strong growth in May included agricultural and food products, such as cassava products, rubber, vegetables and fruit, fresh, chilled and frozen chicken, palm oil, beverag…

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Thai Government Plans to Increase 2022 Investment Budget by 90 Billion baht ($2.84 bln)

BANGKOK (NNT) – The Budget Bureau notes that the Thai government plans to increase its investment budget by 90 billion baht in the fiscal year 2022, in compliance with a law related to state financial and fiscal discipline.

Budget Bureau Director Dechapiwat Na Songkhla said, of the 90 billion baht the government plans to add to the 2022 investment budget, 50-60 billion is from the 500-billion-baht emergency loan. The remainder comes from the 2022 investment budget of state agencies and enterprises.

According to the 2022 fiscal budget bill, which has public spending set at 3.1 trillion baht, accounting for 17.9% of GDP, the government would need to borrow 700 billion baht to offset the deficit.

However, the bill set the investment budget at only 624 billion baht, lower than the deficit of 700 billion. This means the government would have to raise the investment budget to more than 700 billion baht, to comply with the 2018 law governing…

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Thai Government Orders 20 Million Doses of Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine

BANGKOK (NNT) – The Public Health Ministry announced that the government has approved the order for 20 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

The ministry will have a month to negotiate with Pfizer, while the company must send documents to register the vaccine with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said Department of Disease Control Director-General Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong has signed a contract to buy the Pfizer vaccine for delivery this year.

He added that the government has already received approval from the Office of the Attorney-General for the procurement of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Meanwhile, Public Health Ministry Permanent Secretary, Dr. Kiattiphum Wongrajit, said a million more doses of the Sinovac vaccine arrived in Thailand yesterday, bringing the total to 7.5 million, but they must be tested by the FDA and the documents inspected by the Depar…

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China’s new three-child policy highlights risks of aging across emerging Asia

Population aging in China (A1 stable) and other emerging markets in Asia will hurt economic growth, competitiveness and fiscal revenue, unless productivity gains accelerate, according to a new report by Moody’s Investors Service.

And although China’s new policy allowing couples to have up to three children could support fertility, it is unlikely to dramatically change the national birthrate, meaning that aging will remain a credit-negative constraint.

Shrinking workforces could dampen rapid GDP growth and hurt fiscal revenue in China, Thailand and other economiesIn China’s case, productivity gains may lessen the credit-negative impact of demographic changes

Thailand’s (Baa1 stable) total dependency ratio is set to jump nine percentage points to 51% by 2030 – a faster increase than China’s – which will pressure public and private savings through higher taxes and social spending, reducing innovation and productivity gai…

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Asia Pacific: Recovery delayed but not derailed

The ASEAN-6 economies have experienced a surge in Covid-19 cases since the start of 2021, which has led to the reinstatement of social distancing measures.

Thailand has recorded over 120,000 cases since April against less than 7,000 in all of 2020. At the other end of the spectrum Singapore and Vietnam averaged 5 and 1.1 per million new cases a day in May, which is still very low regionally and globally. In the case

This has dimmed, but not derailed the regional economic recovery; we have lowered our 2021 GDP growth forecast to 4.9% (from 5.5% previously). Our forecast is for growth to improve to 6.5% in 2022 as countries move closer to herd immunity and the recovery becomes more synchronised across sectors.

After being lauded for their successful containment of Covid-19 in 2020, the ASEAN-6 economies have experienced a surge in cases since the start of the year.

New daily cases in Malaysia are currently above the peak reached d…

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How the “four M’s” underpin a bright Asian future

For a look into the future of the global economy, and where the power is shifting, consider technology developments in both China and India.,

In a mere decade, China’s e-commerce market has grown from less than 1% of global sales, into the world’s largest market in 2016, representing more than 40% of transactions by value. Platforms such as Alibaba and JD.com reach nearly a billion eager shoppers, in a market three times bigger than the US’. 

Meanwhile, India’s adoption of mobile technologies is surging at an astonishing rate as Reliance Jio – which became India’s dominant tech firm virtually overnight – brings fast connections to India’s 1.3 billion people. Even as Covid-19 spread, Google and Facebook separately invested billions in this telecoms company (a highly unusual step for rival tech giants) amid projections it would hit 500 million subscribers by 2023. 

Events in the world’s two most populous nations capture the dynamic …

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Bank of Thailand adds new measures to support post-COVID-19 recovery

BANGKOK (NNT) – The Bank of Thailand (BoT) has added measures for retail loan restructuring, as part of its third phase of debt relief for individual borrowers, aiming to ease hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to BoT deputy governor Ronadol Numnonda, the new measures, implemented on 4 May, will allow vehicle hire-purchase loans and car title loan borrowers, including motorcycle owners, to return their vehicles to creditors if they cannot repay debt because of the outbreak.

If a vehicle is returned and borrowers still owe a balance, the central bank asked financial institutions to help restructure the remaining debt on a case-by-case basis. The financial institutions include commercial banks, specialized financial institutions and non-bank companies.

The measures also offer additional options for longer loan extensions and lower interest rates than the second phase. For mortgage borrowers, the central bank allows rep…

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