BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand is studying the possibility of injecting coronavirus vaccines under the skin to try to stretch its limited supply, a health official said on Thursday, as the country races to inoculate the public faster amid a worsening epidemic.
“Our previous experience shows that intradermal injections uses 25% of a muscular injection, but triggers the same level of immunity,” head of the medical science department, Supakit Sirilak told reporters.
Thailand has been reporting record deaths in recent weeks among nearly 1 million cases overall.
It has inoculated 8.3% of its population of over 66 million in a mass vaccination campaign that started in June in the midst of a battle against virulent Alpha and Delta COVID-19 variants.
But despite manufacturing vaccines for AstraZeneca and ordering enough doses of different brands to cover its population, Thailand is struggling to get supplies fast enough.
It has even sought to borrow vaccines from the Himalayan kingdom Bhutan https://reut.rs/3k8ODoE and last month became the first country in the world https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/thailand-starts-tighter-coronavirus-lockdown-around-capital-2021-07-12 to mix a Chinese coronavirus vaccine and a Western shot.
It has been using the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine as a booster for its medical personnel.
If its research confirms intradermal injections are effective, regardless of brand, Thailand could vaccinate four to five times the number of people with the same amount of vaccine, Supakit said.
AstraZeneca and Pfizer did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment about intradermal injections.
(Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Martin Petty)