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AstraZeneca scours supply chain for more vaccine doses for Thailand, SE Asia

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COVID-19 vaccinations in Bangkok
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BANGKOK (Reuters) - AstraZeneca Plc is "scouring" its global supply chain to try and boost COVID-19 vaccine supplies to Thailand and Southeast Asia, its representative for the country said on Saturday, amidst speculations of local production shortfalls.

The comments come after leaked letters https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/leaked-letters-show-astrazeneca-vaccine-commitment-not-thailand-claimed-2021-07-19 showed last week that the drugmaker had offered to supply 5-6 million vaccine doses a month to Thailand, contradicting assertions by Thai officials that the government is owed 10 million a month and 61 million doses by end-2021.

AstraZeneca is "scouring the 20+ supply chains in our worldwide manufacturing network to find additional vaccines for Southeast Asia, including Thailand", James Teague, managing director of AstraZeneca Thailand, said in a statement.

"We are hopeful of importing additional doses in the months ahead," he added.

The drugmaker had previously said vaccine doses for Thailand and Southeast Asia would come from a plant of its Thai partner Siam Bioscience, owned by Thailand's king and a first-time vaccine maker.

Pressure has been mounting on the company after Thailand said it was considering imposing limits https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/thailand-considering-regulating-volume-astrazeneca-vaccine-exports-health-2021-07-14 on exports of locally manufactured AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to shore up domestic supplies, a move that could hit its neighbours, some of which are battling similar or more severe COVID-19 crises.

Siam Bioscience has not commented on reports of production shortfalls or delivery timelines.

Teague said AstraZeneca has delivered 9 million does so far to Thailand and will deliver 2.3 million more next week.

Thailand has fully inoculated just 5.56% of its population of more than 66 million so far, while 18.62% have received at least one dose, government data shows.

(Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Kay Johnson and Himani Sarkar)

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