3 doses of AZ urged to combat Omicron

3 doses of AZ urged to combat Omicron

The Public Health Ministry is urging those who have received two doses of AstraZeneca to get a booster shot to protect themselves against the highly infectious new variant of Covid-19.

Citing academic research, Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said on Friday that those who get three doses of AstraZeneca will greatly reduce their chances of being infected by Omicron.

"Thailand has its own AstraZeneca manufacturing facilities. It was confirmed that 61 million doses will be delivered by year's end, while another 60 million doses, including second-generation vaccines, will be handed over at the beginning of next year."

"I also want to ask people to avoid panicking as long as the information from the Department of Disease Control [DDC] shows Omicron has much less severe symptoms than Delta," said Mr Anutin.

DDC director-general, Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, said Oxford University believes that three doses of AstraZeneca has the same efficacy against Omicron as two doses do against Delta.

The DDC's sub-committee on promoting disease immunity is now discussing how to adjust the current vaccination regimen.

Dr Opas said the administration of Pfizer shots for children aged 5-11 years will not be rushed as it requires the consent of their parents. Information from the Education Ministry shows there are about 5.04 million children in that age bracket.

Yesterday's meeting also agreed to administer a fourth vaccine shot for frontline health personnel, as well as people who suffer from chronic diseases and immunodeficiency disorders.

Dr Apisamai Srirangson, assistant spokeswoman for the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA), said the body is working with Oxford University to produce a specific vaccine against Omicron.

Technically, adenovirus-based vaccines like AstraZeneca are best suited to protect against the new variant in a faster manner, she added.

Since Feb 28, 101.6 million doses of vaccines have been administered in Thailand -- 50.86 million as a first dose, 45.01 million as a second dose and 5.731 million as a third dose.

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