New highly-transmissible Covid strain will elude vaccines: expert
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New highly-transmissible Covid strain will elude vaccines: expert

Last week's case numbers rose marginally from week before

A health professional prepares a Covid-19 vaccine shot at parliament in May last year. (Photo: Chanat Kantanyu)
A health professional prepares a Covid-19 vaccine shot at parliament in May last year. (Photo: Chanat Kantanyu)

The KP.2 strain of Covid-19 will become dominant in Thailand, according to a renowned virologist. It will be more transmissible and vaccines will be hard-pressed to keep up with its mutations, but its symptoms will not be more severe that those of previous strains of the virus.

Prof Yong Poovorawan at the Center of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University wrote on Facebook on Saturday that the KP.2 strain was spreading and replacing JN.1 as the dominant strain in the country. JN.1 has been common in the country since late last year, he wrote.

KP.2 does not cause more severe illness but spreads more quickly and is better at avoiding antibodies, Prof Yong wrote.

Since existing vaccines were developed from the XBB.1.5 strain, the World Health Organization  recommended new vaccines to be developed to cope with JN.1. Before that happened, the mutation into KP.2 occurred, the virologist wrote.

Available vaccines for the XBB.1.5 strain were less effective with JN.1, and less effective still with KP.2, he wrote.

It is difficult to produce vaccines that match a presently dominant strain, Prof Yong wrote.

On Sunday Dr Thongchai Keeratihattayakorn, director-general of the Department of Disease Control, said there were 2,881 Covid-19 inpatients over the past week from June 9 to 15, up slightly from 2,762 in the previous week from June 2 to 8.

In the past week there were 748 cases with lung inflammation. Of them, 339 needed respirators and seven died.

“There were clusters of cases mostly at schools, prisons and military camps… Covid-19 is endemic and can spread all year long. Cases may rise especially during the rainy season,” Dr Thongchai said.

JN.1 caused mild symptoms which were similar to those of fever, he said.

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