Omicron BA.5 infections will increase before declining in August: Yong
The Omicron BA.5 subvariant is Thailand’s dominant strain for June, causing the disease to spread further, expert virologist Dr Yong Poovorawan said on Thursday.
He said infections would increase before declining in August and advised people to receive at least three Covid-19 vaccine jabs as well as booster shots periodically.
The number of Covid-19 patients has risen sharply in the past two weeks, especially children, he noted.
Citing Chulalongkorn University’s Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology that he heads, Yong said each Covid-19 strain became the dominant one for only a short period.
He predicted Omicron BA.5 instead of BA.2 would be the country’s dominant strain this month.
“Once a new strain becomes dominant, the virus will spread further,” he said.
He said BA.5 can escape immunity provided by vaccines, so it is not surprising that vaccinated people can get infected with the virus again. However, he stressed that most patients developed mild symptoms.
Yong expected more than 10,000 people to be infected with Covid-19, more than ten times the figure in a Public Health Ministry report.
Thailand recorded 2,695 Covid-19 cases and 14 deaths on Thursday in the past 24 hours.
He said the death rate among Covid-19 patients is now lower than 0.1 per cent. Vulnerable people, the elderly aged 60 years or above, pregnant women, people with underlying diseases and the unvaccinated accounted for most deaths.
“Vaccines can reduce the severity of Covid-19, enabling many patients to receive treatment at home despite rising infections,” the doctor pointed out.
Vulnerable people should receive Covid-19 antiviral drugs as soon as possible, Yong advised, recommending three drugs approved by the World Health Organisation – Remdesivir, Molnupiravir and Paxlovid.
“Vulnerable people should be given antiviral drugs within five days after developing symptoms,” he added.