BANGKOK (Reuters): Thailand reported 1,458 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday (April 21) and two new deaths, as the country deals with a third wave of infections that saw record new cases on most days last week.
The new infections took the total number recorded in Thailand to 46,643, with 110 deaths. A third of the total cases have come this month alone.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-O-Cha said in a Facebook post on Wednesday that Thailand is trying to secure 35 million more doses of Covid-19 vaccines from two or three firms this year on top of existing orders of around 65 million doses.
Of the new shots sought, the private sector through the Chamber of Commerce will help source some 10 to 15 million doses, Prayut said.
"I have ordered that we distribute and administer all the vaccines that we can find by December," he added.
Prayut did not name the brands, or specify whether the 35 million included the five to 10 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech's vaccine that he announced were being sought on Tuesday.
Thailand has been credited for its swift containment of earlier outbreaks, but the slow pace of its immunisation drive has caused some jitters, with only 604,947 people inoculated with first doses so far.
The pursuit of more vaccines comes as Thailand fights a third, stronger wave of infections that includes the highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant blamed in many countries for causing big jumps in cases.
Its mass vaccination plan has been centred on administering 61 million doses of locally-made AstraZeneca vaccine, which the royal-owned producer, Siam Bioscience, has assured are on schedule for a June rollout.
Like most of its neighbours, Thailand has far relied on the vaccine of Sinovac Biotech for its initial round of inoculations of health workers.
It has received two million doses of the Chinese vaccine, named CoronaVac, and 117,000 imported doses of the AstraZeneca shot.
A further 1.5 million doses of CoronaVac are on order, a third of those to arrive on Saturday and the rest next month.