Expert warns about further Covid surge

Expert warns about further Covid surge

Virus 'will soon be seasonal illness'

A Chulalongkorn University virologist has warned about a potential surge in Covid-19 cases during the cold season, with the increase likely to peak in January.

Dr Yong Poovorawan, chief of the university's Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology, on Facebook yesterday said Covid-19 will soon become a seasonal respiratory illness like influenza. According to the World Health Organization, the peak period for seasonal flu transmissions differs between regions, but the virus tends to spread more easily in wet and cold conditions.

Dr Yong said the virus is likely to return in force here in the middle of this month, when schools are open, with cases expected to peak after New Year. Like other kinds of flu, cases will ease from March to May -- the hot season in Thailand -- and then rebound again in the rainy season or around June, he said.

Dr Yong said the United States and some countries in Europe will see a spike of Covid infections during winter.

He urged hospitals and other state agencies to prepare for a jump in the number of Covid-19 patients, with the caveat that maximum caseloads will not be as high as previous peaks.

Dr Yong also expressed concern about whether the government has prepared enough vaccines to see the country through the rainy season next year, especially around June when schools reopen. He recommended stockpiling sufficient booster shots for the whole population.

Meanwhile, Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Public Health, said the ministry has administered Long-Acting Antibody (LAAB) doses of AstraZeneca, known as Evusheld, to 6,300 people who have poor immunity systems. No one suffered adverse effects from the LAAB dose, he said.

The findings showed that most recipients who were given a 600-milligramme shot of LAAB within 5-7 days of developing symptoms were able to reduce the severity of the infection, while the fatality rate dropped by between half and two-thirds compared to those who didn't get jabbed.

For those who received the first LAAB dose within three days of showing symptoms, the fatality rate was 88% lower than among those who didn't take it, he said. The results confirmed that LAAB doses can be safely used as a Covid-19 treatment, he said.

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