'Fight for vaccine': Thais snap up shots in seconds via Shopee sale

BANGKOK (Reuters) – A hospital in Thailand taking reservations this week for the Moderna coronavirus vaccine was sold out in minutes – after offering shots via e-commerce platform Shopee.

FILE PHOTO: A healthcare worker holds a vial of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine at a pop-up vaccination site operated by SOMOS Community Care during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., January 29, 2021. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

With a worsening outbreak and worries about the efficacy of vaccines offered locally, appetite has quickly grown in Thailand for mRNA vaccines, which aren’t available until near the end of the year.

“It was sold out within minutes,” a Shopee spokesperson said on Friday, adding the vaccine sale saw a spike in traffic on Phyathai Hospital’s page, attracting 2.6 million visitors.

It offered 1,800 slots for doses of the Moderna vaccine at 1,650 baht ($50) apiece via Shopee, a unit of Singapore-based Sea Ltd.,

“They were sold out at record speed,” the hospital’s CEO Att Thongtang told Reuters. “I feel very sorry for those who missed it.” One buyer called lovesujuforever wrote: “It’s gone in 15 seconds and I’m so lucky to get one.”

Another, labellelabel, said: “It’s a fight for vaccine.”

Hospital operator Thonburi Healthcare Group Pcl sold all 800,000 Moderna doses it ordered in two days, its chairman Boon Vanasin told Reuters.

Demand for the Moderna vaccine has increased after a leaked health ministry memo showed the Thai government was considering giving a booster shot of mRNA vaccine to medical workers who had already received two doses of Sinovac’s vaccine.

Thailand and neighbours like Indonesia have reported breakthrough infections among medical and frontline workers inoculated with Sinovac’s inactivated virus vaccine.

Thailand is also using the viral vector vaccine of AstraZeneca, but health experts have urged the government to include more mRNA vaccines in its programme, like that of Pfizer and BioNTech.

Private hospitals in Thailand, via a state procurement, will receive five million doses of the Moderna vaccine between this year and 2022. Thailand has also ordered 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, for delivery after October.

($1 = 32.6800 baht)

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