It should take about three years from the emergence of Covid-19 for it to infect most of Thailand's population, a virologist said on Thursday citing past surveillance of the coronavirus.
Within this period, most of the population will likely have been infected at least once, similar to influenza, Yong Poovorawan, chief of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at the Department of Paediatrics of Chulalongkorn University's Faculty of Medicine, said on Thursday.
Covid-19 was first reported in Wuhan, China, at the very end of 2019. The United States confirmed its first case on Jan 21, 2020, and Thailand reported its first local case of human-to-human transmission 10 days later in a Thai taxi driver within the country.
"Whereas in previous times epidemics such as cholera or Spanish flu usually only needed a year to infect most people in the country, killing about 1% of the population, medical technology advances have extended this timeframe a lot," said Dr Yong.
Now it has come to a stage where this epidemic is not particularly virulent, considering the average number of Covid-19 patients requiring hospitalisation in Thailand stands between 2,000 and 3,000 a day, with median fatalities ranging from 20 to 30 a day, he said.
However, as most people only experience mild symptoms, and the majority of cases are believed to go unreported, the actual number of new daily infections at this stage in the virus's transmission could now be in the tens of thousands, he added.
The country registered 35 more Covid-19 fatalities and 2,316 new cases admitted to hospitals during the previous 24 hours, the Public Health Ministry said on Thursday morning.
In related news, a large number of counterfeit Chinese-made antigen test kits for Covid-19, worth more than 2 million baht in total, were seized in a joint operation carried out by the Consumer Protection Police Division (CPPD) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
At least four suspects have been detained for questioning following raids carried out on Tuesday at a commercial building in Nakhon Pathom's Bang Len district, and a house in Nonthaburi's Muang district, said Dr Paisarn Dunkum, secretary-general of the FDA.
Prior to this crackdown, Pol Col Neti Wongkulap, chief of the CPPD's 4th sub-division, said the division had two weeks ago received a complaint about fake kits being sold online.
Consumers are now being advised to make sure the expiry date printed on the package and that on the kit match before using it, said Dr Paisarn.