All risk catching Omicron, says expert

All risk catching Omicron, says expert

The Bangkok Post Conference 2022: Omicron Crisis online forum was broadcast live on Facebook on Thursday.
The Bangkok Post Conference 2022: Omicron Crisis online forum was broadcast live on Facebook on Thursday.

Although 70% of the Thai population have been vaccinated, everyone still has a high chance of getting infected with the Omicron variant of Covid-19, said Dr Manoon Leechawengwongs, a pulmonary disease expert at Vichaiyut Hospital.

Fortunately, over 90% of infected people might only have mild or asymptomatic symptoms while severe cases will decrease. The Omicron variant will not cause the country’s public health security to collapse despite high daily infection numbers, Dr Manoon said during the Bangkok Post Conference 2022: Omicron Crisis. The online forum was broadcast live on Facebook on Thursday.

“We are now living in a period where Covid-19 infections are surging," the medical expert said.

"What we should do now is urgently provide the vaccine to senior citizens to reduce the fatality rate.

"At present, only 26% of senior citizens have had a full dose while another 2 million have not even had the first shot. We do need to limit the number of deaths among them." 

He suggested the government should further relax measures imposed on overseas travellers, especially the requirement to conduct two RT-PCR tests.

Dr Manoon said the government should pay more attention to the economic aspects, not only public health security.

He also dismissed concerns about the coronavirus mutating further, saying that Omicron should be the last episode of the pandemic because most of the world's population will be infected with the disease, leading to herd immunity.

He explained that if a new variant will emerge and replace Omicron, its transmission rate must be faster. Today, Omicron is the fastest-spreading virus known to humankind.

Moreover, it must effectively escape the human immune system.

Dr Pichit Kangwolkij, CEO of Thonburi Bamrungmuang Hospital, suggested that a third dose is essential while the fourth should be reserved for people who had received two shots of inactivated vaccines.

Concerning the rising cases of the Omicron BA.2 subvariant, which is less severe than BA.1, he said it is still harmful to children below five years old, senior citizens and those with chronic diseases.

Dr Pichit said the vaccination coverage in Thailand has not yet reached 80% of the population. Many people are still in crowded places, so it is necessary to maintain the present Covid-19 measures, such as wearing protective masks and practicing social distancing.

He also expressed concerns over those patients who have recovered but have developed long covid syndrome.

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