Like much of the world, Asia has had its share of preventive measures to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including declaring states of emergency, restricting travel, locking down businesses and school and issuing stay-at-home orders. Now more than 22 months in, there seems to be a shift, but not necessarily an end in sight.
“It has been a tough year with the pandemic,” said Chew Yew Kwong, managing director for Xaloy, Asia. “With the economic downturn due to movement controls and global disruption with trade, it’s been a difficult time both socially and economically.”
As if the macro-economic impact and the social impact weren’t bad enough, the challenges were compounded by a virtually non-existent supply of the COVID-19 vaccine in some parts of Asia, according to Supalak Watcharapalakorn, Xaloy’s human resources manager for Asia.
For example, only about two dozen of the nearly 224 employees at the manufacturing plant in Chonburi, Thailand, were able to get a vaccine early on due to short supplies.
For Xaloy CEO Kamal Tiwari, it made sense from a business perspective and a humanitarian perspective. “Xaloy knows our people are an integral part of the company’s success,” Tiwari said. “We really value our employees and their safety is a top priority. Ensuring they had access to vaccines and could take care of their family’s health was important. We wanted them to know Xaloy cares about them, and that’s why we made the decision to be there with education, resources and support.”
So began the complex task of vaccinating the remaining workforce at the manufacturing plant in Chonburi, Thailand, in addition to dozens of subcontractors and family members. While options were limited to AstraZeneca and Sinopharm, both two-dose vaccines with efficacy rates of 62-74% and 79%, respectively, Watcharapalakorn said employees were grateful to just get some level of protection against COVID.
The Thai government took notice of Xaloy’s efforts, which were honored in November with the Integrated Happy Workplace Model’s “Role Model Enterprise for Healthy & Safety to be Decent Work” during COVID-19 crisis. Xaloy was one of just 35 organizations that received the award sponsored by the Ministry of Labor, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation and Burapha University.