Red Cross denies profiteering from Moderna vaccine deal

The Thai Red Cross Society (TRCS) denies it is seeking to profit from reselling 1 million Covid-19 Moderna vaccine doses at an exorbitant price.

TRCS administration bureau director, Kritsada Boonrach, said on Thursday that some media outlets on Tuesday may have misinterpreted information posted by a Facebook user called Sarinee Achavanuntakul.

The post suggested the TRCS spent its own money to order a quota of the Moderna vaccine via the Government Pharmaceutical Organization (GPO) and was trying to resell it to local organisations across the country.

"This information may have caused misunderstanding about how the TRCS operates and its intentions," Mr Kritsada said.

He said the TRCS is a charity organisation whose income derives from public donations as well as from the government. It is not a state agency, he said.

In April, the Covid-19 situation began to worsen, prompting the TRCS to procure Covid-19 vaccines from other Red Cross agencies abroad, as well as vaccine manufacturers.

As a result, Zuellig Pharma, the authorised distributor of the Moderna vaccine, agreed to sell 1 million vaccine doses to the TRCS on condition they be bought via the GPO in line with the vaccine manufacturer's policy, Mr Kritsada said.

The GPO agreed to sell the vaccines at 1,100 baht per dose, and the TRCS spent its own budget buying 100,000 doses for distribution to its own units to administer the vaccines to the public free of charge, he said.

The TRCS also invited other medical agencies, Chulalongkorn Hospital as well as 12 medical colleges to purchase another 150,000 doses, Mr Kritsada said.

The TRCS also invited 76 provincial administrative organisations (PAOs) across the country to join its drive to vaccinate people in the provinces free of charge.

Of the 76 PAOs, 38 pitched in to buy another 750,000 vaccine doses from the GPO via the TRCS, Mr Kritsada said, adding that no tambon administrative organisations (TAOs) had joined the programme.

The TRCS, he said, had facilitated the procurement of doses for its units, Chulalongkorn Hospital, medical colleges and the 38 PAOs so the 1 million vaccine doses could be available to the public for free.

"We didn't resell the Moderna vaccine by charging more than the 1,100 baht per dose price as alleged," he said, adding the TRCS has conducted its vaccine procurement transparently and the prices can be checked with the GPO.

The GPO and Zuellig Pharma have informed the TRCS that they will deliver the vaccine doses to the TRCS and other agencies gradually from next month, Mr Kritsada said.

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