ALYSSA MONTALVO WRITES — More than a year has passed since the COVID-19 outbreak shook the world. Thailand, which was successfully keeping infection and death rates low early in the pandemic, is now sinking in an ocean of uncertainty.
In Bangkok, citizens are outraged because of the government’s poor handling of the highly transmissible Delta COVID-19 variant. Anti-government protesters are taking to the streets, despite the risks of getting infected, becoming injured, or being arrested. Still, activists say that they will continue to protest in favor of the resignation of Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-O-Cha.
There are minimal vaccines available for citizens, even those who are most at risk of being infected. Muktita Suhartono and Hannah Beech, who report from Bangkok for the New York Times, said, “This summer’s vaccine rollout, already late, was further hampered by manufacturing delays. A company with no experience making vaccines, whose dominant shareholder is Thailand’s king, was given the contract to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine domestically. The government’s failure to secure adequate imported supplies has made matters worse.”
Thailand, a military-based government and constitutional monarchy, has been wholly unprepared for the Delta variant, resulting in 1.7 million confirmed cases and 17,000 deaths. Even more devastating is knowing that these numbers will continue to rise.
“Earlier, people said they were not coming out to protest because of Covid, but now the thinking has changed to, ‘You stay at home and you will die anyway because of the government’s inability to take care of people,’” said Tosaporn Sererak, a doctor who was once a spokesman for the government unseated by the 2014 coup.
Should anger and frustration continue to build while the Delta variant surges, citizens of Thailand will continued to face arrest as they exercise basic human rights by fighting for health and well-being. The fight for change will continue.
“From Indonesia and Malaysia to Thailand and Bangladesh, countries across Asia have detected Delta in their communities, and many are experiencing their largest outbreaks yet. But vaccination rates remain perilously low in many of these nations, leaving them highly vulnerable”. For now, without more vaccines Thailand will continue to suffer.