Thailand Starts Factory Worker Vaccine Drive to Protect Exports

Thailand has launched a pilot program to test, vaccinate and isolate factory workers to limit Covid-related disruptions to its export-driven manufacturing industry, one of the few bright spots in an economy crushed by the virus. 

The “Factory Sandbox” initiative aims to protect 3 million jobs and support manufacturers who contribute about 700 billion baht ($21 billion) to gross domestic product, according to a government statement this week. The plan will focus on plants that employ at least 500 people, and will “build confidence for both Thai and foreign investors at a time when supply chains in rival countries are shutting down,” the statement said. 

Thai exports in the second quarter surged 27.5% from a year earlier, with growth in manufacturing one of the few economic bright spots amid weak retail spending, “diminishing effectiveness” of interest-rate cuts and the void of tourism, according to a report by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. 

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Randy Thanthong-Knight