Current COVID-19 situation in Thailand and the development of COVID-19 vaccines
Scientists and researchers from every corner of the world are working together in producing vaccines to prevent and cure the COVID-19 virus, with many countries offering their cooperation in committing to restrict the spread of this virus. As of today (January 31, 2021) the number of infected in the global population is at 103,132,381 with accumulated death toll at 2,229,405 and more than 74,756,577 people recovered. This is considered as the second major pandemic following the Spanish Flu which occurred over 100 years ago. While the COVID-19 outbreak situation in Thailand has accumulated an infection at 18,782 people, 7,090 are being treated, 77 have died and 11,615 have recovered.
With the good relationship between Thailand and the UK, AstraZeneca Plc, as one of the giant pharmaceutical companies from England, has chosen Thailand as the base for the vaccine production for distribution within the ASEAN region. The Company has chosen Siam Bioscience Co., Ltd. to produce and distribute the vaccine for the reason that Siam Bioscience Co., Ltd. is a company in the Royal title, established by King Rama IX in 2009 by the Crown property with a registered capital of 5 billion baht. Since the Company’s establishment, it has been working on researching, developing, and producing medicine, medical instruments and various health products for the Thai people by using Thai medical technology that is ranked as one of the best in countries in the world. Therefore, Siam Bioscience Co., Ltd. is entrusted by AstraZeneca Plc to be the production base of this antiviral drug for distribution as Thailand has demonstrated the efficient ability to manage and control the epidemic which is recognized at international level since the outbreak of the virus. Thai people will benefit from this cooperation by receiving the vaccination at a lower price than other countries.
Good medical technology has a positive impact on investment in all sectors
AstraZeneca realizes that it is important to be able to pass on the medical technology and the method of producing the vaccine quickly as it would be time consuming if the process begins from scratch. It is also of tremendous importance that the medical personnel are equipped with the skills and competencies to receive such technology and knowledge. With a large factory and large vaccine production capacity of 200 million doses, Siam Bioscience Co., Ltd. is therefore well prepared for this vaccine production, including the vaccine production technology and knowledge that can be applied to develop and deal with future epidemics. Furthermore, Thailand is also under the gaze of the business sectors that are likely to invest in the country, particularly that of medical products and other related sectors such as transport sector, medicine and nursing, real estate to accommodate the patients and patients in the recovery process, including the food industry catering for patients and other consumptions.
Excellent management of COVID-19 creates sustainable foreign investment opportunities
If Thailand is able to control the spread of COVID-19 this time, many other benefits will follow, such as investment in the production model related to the production process of antiviral drugs; the tourism industry will recover as people become more confident in the vaccination, cure, management and screening, and will be confident to visit Thailand again; retail and other related sectors are expected to improve; and finally the economy is expected to gradually improve with Thai people ceasing to be skeptical of each other, and neighboring countries will no longer bring the virus into the country. During the first phase, the businesses that are expected to gain benefits are the ready-built factory for rent and office buildings or warehouses, as it does not require a large sum of investment to start and the focus is to conduct business. With rail transport being accelerated by the state, it will create great demand for the business sector to distribute products from this region to ASEAN countries as Thailand is located in the center of the region itself.
Thailand’s commitment to becoming the medical hub
Thailand was able to handle pandemic situations in the past brilliantly, such as SARS and MERS, which has given Thailand a great reputation with the advanced medical technology and personnel equipped with knowledge and skills in various fields. Until 2004, the Ministry of Public Health was appointed by key agencies to drive the National Development Strategies where Thailand was to become the international medical hub. Today, the strategy has been categorized into four main centers, namely the health promotion service center, health service center, academic and research service center, and drug and health products center, that are to be implemented within 10 years (2016–2025).
The main factor that makes Thailand recognized internationally is the knowledge and capabilities of medical personnel, the modern technology, the treatment being based on international standards, and most importantly, the reasonable price compared with other treatments in other regions with the same standard. Once Thailand can raise the level of medical treatment to be accepted internationally, and successfully become the medical hub in accordance with the goals of the national strategy, the country shall experience large cashflow from the tourism industry and other related sectors. The crisis of the COVID-19 outbreak is a good opportunity to help revive the Thai economy in the future.