The study covered 246 people aged between 13 and 88, of whom 209 had been vaccinated against smallpox at least once, eight had got smallpox as children, while 29 had no history of infection or vaccination.
The study found that those vaccinated or previously infected recorded no drop in antibodies against the disease for up to 88 years. It also found that 97 per cent of the participants had enough immunity against smallpox.
Hence, the study concluded that most people who have been vaccinated against smallpox are immune to monkeypox, while those who received a booster jab did not have significantly higher immunity.
An expert virologist has warned people that getting a Covid-19 infection does not mean they will not get infected again.
In a Facebook post on Sunday, Dr Yong Poovorawan said most people are at risk of getting reinfected within three months after recovering, though some former patients were reinfected after just two months.
He was citing the Chulalongkorn University’s Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology study on 40 people who were infected for a second time.
The study covered reinfected patients with mild symptoms as well as those with severe symptoms, though most had mild symptoms. Patients who had been prescribed the antiviral Favipiravir during their first infection received symptomatic treatment in the second round.
He added that no patients developed severe symptoms or pneumonia or a lower than normal oxygen level.
Dr Yong said he believes that immunity derived from vaccines and previous infections kept the symptoms mild. Also, he said, many people got vaccinated after their first infection, and this also reduced the severity of the second infection.
Covid-19 is like other respiratory diseases, which means recovered patients can get infected again after three months so they should receive a booster dose when appropriate, he said.
He also advised unvaccinated people to get a jab within three months of being infected, and those who have received two jabs or more should get a booster shot six months after being infected.
A top virologist shed some light on why monkeypox patients develop pus-filled cysts on their bodies, especially in the genital area.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, Dr Yong Poovorawan said the disease had first surfaced in Africa, where it was transmitted to humans from animals like rodents. The disease was then spread among humans via direct contact or the respiratory system.
The disease can enter the bloodstream and lymph nodes via a scratch on the skin, and patients can develop fever, fatigue and swollen lymph nodes.
After that, the patients develop cysts on the external parts of their body like arms, legs and head before it spreads to the torso.
Yong said 98 per cent of monkeypox patients found outside Africa are men, and 40 per cent developed boils on their genitals or nearby.
Recent studies show that monkeypox is most often transmitted sexually, and Dr Yong said that though most patients are male adults at present, the disease will soon spread to women and become difficult to control in the future.
However, he said, it is still 100 times more difficult to contract monkeypox when compared to Covid-19, so only people in high-risk groups will be infected in the early phase.
A booster shot provides the same level of immunity against Covid-19 to people whose first two shots have been either inactivated or mRNA vaccines, a top virologist said.
In a Facebook post on Friday, Dr Yong Poovorawan said he and his team have been studying the administration of Covid-19 vaccines in Thailand for the past year and a half.
His latest study, titled “Immunogenicity of the BNT162b2 COVID-19 vaccine as a third dose (booster) following two doses of different primary series regimens in Thailand”, was published in the National Library of Medicine (NIH) website (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35920191/) on Wednesday.
The subjects of the study were people who had received an mRNA booster shot (Pfizer) after receiving the first two jabs in Thailand.
He said people who had received two shots of the inactivated vaccines, especially Sinovac, developed similar immunity against Covid-19 as those whose first two jabs had been mRNA vaccines.
His team also studied the effects of different boosters on people whose first two vaccines were a combination of Sinovac and AstraZeneca.
This study, titled “Effects of boosted mRNA and adenoviral-vectored vaccines on immune responses to omicron BA.1 and BA.2 following the heterologous CoronaVac/AZD1222 vaccination”, was published on the NIH website (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35924475/) on Thursday.
This study shows that all booster doses provide similar immunity against the BA.1 and BA.2 subvariants.
Dr Yong and his team also studied the administration of the India-produced Covovax and the US-manufactured Novavax vaccines as a booster.
Results of this study showed that those who have received two doses of these inactivated vaccines had developed similar immunity as those who had received two mRNA jabs.
In the post, Dr Yong said that so far, 20 studies led by him and his team had been published in international medical journals and some governments implemented his suggestions. For instance, he said, the Public Health Ministry here adopted the mix-and-match vaccine formula, while the World Health Organisation based its advice on some of his studies.
The Public Health Ministry has highlighted how to diagnose and treat monkeypox, with the Medical Services Department announcing guidelines.
It said monkeypox is not severe and patients could recover without hospitalisation, but it could be severe for people with low immunity and children.
The fatality rate is below 5 per cent while the disease could stay in one’s body from two to four weeks. The incubation period is around seven to 21 days.
Patients get fever and rash first. The rash starts as macules before evolving into papules, vesicles and pustules, respectively, and then turn into scabs. The amount is relative to the severity of the disease.
Most get infected after coming into direct contact with a patient’s rashes or secretions.
Those at risk have these symptoms:
Fever higher than 38 degrees Celcius or a fever with one other symptom, such as sore throat, headache, muscle ache, back pain or lymphadenopathy.
Rashes and blisters on the skin, genitalia or other parts of the body. These could be papules, vesicles, pustules or scabs.
People at risk also include those with one epidemiological link within 21 days, including:
Contact with monkeypox patients
Arrival from other countries, participating in any activity with monkeypox patients or in an occupation that involves close contact with foreign travellers
Contact with rodents or small mammals imported from outbreak continents such as Africa.
At least two labs will test samples taken from patients. The result will be confirmed as positive if the monkeypox virus (MPXV) is found via real-time PCR or DNA sequencing.
Cases will be investigated further to see if the patients contracted the virus inside the country or from outside.
Patients will be given conventional treatment because there are no anti-viral drugs to tackle the virus at the moment, while tecovirimat will be given to severe patients.
People should avoid sexual contact with foreigners in order to contain the spread of monkeypox, the Medical Council of Thailand advised on Tuesday.
Amorn Leelarasamee, a member of the Medical Council of Thailand, said he was uncertain whether monkeypox would become endemic in Thailand as the disease can be transmitted from person to person and from animal to person.
He pointed out that monkeypox would be unable to control if the disease spreads among rodents such as monkeys, rabbits and rats.
“If monkeypox patients have any underlying disease such as cancer or immune deficiency, the virus could cause death,” he warned.
Amorn asked people who develop fever, a red rash and blisters to immediately take a monkeypox test and isolate themselves for 21 days.
He also advised Thais to avoid sexual contact with foreigners as most monkeypox cases worldwide have been found in gay men.
Up to 20,000 Europeans are infected with monkeypox daily, Amorn noted.
“Monkeypox can’t be transmitted via sexual contact, but people can be infected with the virus from blister secretions,” he warned.
He said hotel operators should clean rooms in line with international standards in order to contain the spread of the disease.
More than 22,100 people in 70 countries have been infected so far with monkeypox, with 5,189 cases found in the US alone, Amorn said.
“Monkeypox patients have been found in most US states, except Vermont, Montana and Wyoming,” he added.
Hua Hin’s bid for a spot among the world’s top five medical/wellness destinations got a booster on Saturday with the launch of a new clinic targeting high-end tourists.
Chevala Wellness Hua Hin opened in collaboration with InterContinental Resort at the coastal resort’s Bluport Mall.
It offers wellness and beauty programmes designed by a team of specialists led by Dr Ratkawin Jitawatanarat, an American Board of Hematology, oncology and anti-ageing specialist. The programmes include meals and accommodation at the resort.
The global wellness economy is projected to grow 9.9 per cent per year, reaching nearly US$7 trillion in 2025 as the world rebounds from Covid-19.
According to the Public Health Ministry, medical tourism now makes up 15 per cent of Thailand’s tourism markets, trailing nature, food, and cultural tourism.
Spending on Thai medical tourism is also growing 25-27 per cent per year, driven by tourists from the Middle East, South Asia, Europe, and the US.
The launch of Chevala also aligns with the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s campaign to make the country the “Medical and Wellness Resort of the World” by 2024.
“Chevala was developed because we realised that Thailand has never had a fully integrated evidence-based medical wellness centre that provides a truly comprehensive body and mind healing experience by medical specialists,” said Dr Ratkawin, its chief medical director.
“Apart from the medical programmes, we also offer hearty chef-prepared meals and exercise courses with certified trainers for an all-inclusive health programme.”
Ratkawin sees great potential for Thailand’s health and wellness sectors, as more tourists fly in to seek treatments.
“Not only is Thailand home to internationally recognised expertise and state-of-the-art facilities, but it also offers competitive service prices, stunning nature, and beautiful cultural attractions. The country is already among Asia’s top 10 medical hubs,” she said.
She also noted Hua Hin’s reputation as a top beach resort, with Prachuap Khiri Khan province attracting 3.6 million local and international tourists in the first five months (January-May) of this year.
“The province also ranked among Thailand’s top three destinations, generating revenue of 12.352 billion baht. We believe this partnership is a stepping stone for Thailand’s journey toward becoming a world-class wellness destination. The project is part of our contribution to Thailand’s economic recovery through wellness tourism.”
Chevala is targeting InterContinental Hua Hin Resort customers as well as non-guests with five services: Long Covid recovery programme, anti-ageing programme, immunity booster, detox, and cardiovascular strengthening programme.
The lack of immunity from vaccination when the BA.1 subvariant first started to spread has made new subvariants of Omicron more severe than BA.5, a senior virologist has said.
In a Facebook post, Dr Anan Jongkaewwattana, director of the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology’s Veterinary Health Innovation and Management Research Group, said that most patients did not have immunity from vaccines when the BA.1 subvariant was spreading initially.
Anan cited the study “Neutralisation of Omicron sublineages and Deltacron Sars-CoV-2 by three doses of BNT162b2 vaccine or BA.1 infection”, which was published on Wednesday.
He said that scientists took natural immunity from BA.1 subvariant to test the capability to prevent new BA subvariants.
The study result revealed that the BA.1 subvariant was different from the original variant and natural immunity could not prevent older variants.
It was similar to how natural immunity from older variants could not also prevent the BA.1 subvariant if a person did not receive the booster dose of vaccines.
He explained that it reflected how the mutation of Omicron subvariants could change suddenly.
Interestingly, Omicron subvariants (BA.2, BA.3 and BA.4/BA.5) that people expected to be similar to BA.1 are true, but they also could evade immunity from BA.1.
He said that the immunity from the BA.1 subvariant could almost certainly not prevent BA.4/BA.5 subvariants.
Anan mentioned that the US Food and Drug Administration wanted new booster doses to target BA.4/BA.5 subvariants instead of the BA.1 subvariant.
However, there might be newer Omicron subvariants in the future and the immunity from the BA.5 subvariant might not be able to prevent them.
An expert virologist provided an insight into why it is difficult to control the spread of monkeypox.
In a Facebook post on Friday, Dr Yong Poovorawan said infected persons do not develop many initial symptoms, so the disease is difficult to diagnose.
Comparing monkeypox to HIV, he said 40 years ago HIV spread quickly because there were no initial symptoms, so patients took no precautions.
However, he said, the only difference is that monkeypox patients recover within two to four weeks and are no longer a threat to others.
Yong said the monkeypox virus is spreading and the spread is not likely to slow down. There are more than 17,000 patients in 75 countries, mostly in Europe and the US. So far, there have only been five deaths from monkeypox, and they were all in Africa.
He also pointed out that though the World Health Organisation report did not provide statistics, current information shows that more than 98 per cent of patients are men. He added that for now, the disease is spreading among men who have sex with men and that 40 per cent of the lesions occur in the genital region.
Yong said if the disease cannot be controlled, it will spread to others and even pets, which will make the disease even more difficult to control.
People who have recovered from Covid-19 may develop up to 62 underlying conditions that may last for many weeks or even months.
In his Facebook post on Tuesday, Thira Woratanarat, a lecturer at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, cited a study published on Monday in the Nature Medicine journal. The study, conducted over 12 weeks on 486,149 non-hospitalised Covid-19 patients, lists conditions developed a post-Covid infection or long Covid.
The study was adjusted based on age, sex, ethnic group, socioeconomic status, smoking, BMI and chronic conditions, he said.
Apart from an impact on the respiratory system, heart, circulation, memory and concentration, he said long-Covid sufferers have also complained of hair loss at four times higher than those who have not been infected. He added that long Covid also puts the reproductive system at risk.
“Covid-19 patients face a 1.26 times higher risk of developing erectile dysfunction than those not infected,” he said, adding that men can also develop ejaculation difficulties and reduced libido.
He said long Covid can affect people’s quality of life, relationships and can increase long-term expenses. Hence, people should continue protecting themselves, especially those at risk of developing severe symptoms, he added.