Thais urged to get booster shots as Covid-19 subvariant’s prevalence increases

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Thais urged to get booster shots as Covid-19 subvariant’s prevalence increases

Thais urged to get booster shots as Covid-19 subvariant’s prevalence increases

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2022

As the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths rise during the cool season, the omicron subvariant BA.2.75 has become the main subvariant of the virus circulating in Thailand, officials say.

Omicron subvariant BA.2.75 has replaced subvariant BA.5 as the main cause of infection due, in part, to the swiftness with which it spreads, officials said.

They say confusion about the different variants is one reason people neglect to get booster shots, and urge members of the public to understand that booster shots are critical to prevent people from getting infected by new variants. Those who get infected after receiving a booster shot are less likely to experience severe illness, medical experts say.

Covid-19 variants have changed since the first arrived in Thailand. Below is a list of the variants that have arrived in Thailand since 2019.

Wuhan variant

Covid-19 is believed to have originated in China’s Wuhan city, most likely jumping from bats to people before human-to-human transmission occurred. The Wuhan variant (also known as the Serine variant) spread quickly around the globe, arriving in Thailand in January 2020. The first infection detected was in a Chinese tourist who was visiting from Wuhan.

The disease spread rapidly with large clusters around Rajadamnern Stadium and in Samut Sakhon.

Thais urged to get booster shots as Covid-19 subvariant’s prevalence increases

Beta variant (B.1.351)

This variant was first detected in South Africa. It was found in Thailand in January 2021, likely arriving via a tourist from Tanzania.

This variant was found to spread 50% quicker than the original one. Moreover, it caused severe symptoms.

Alpha variant (B.1.1.7)

This variant was first detected in the United Kingdom and arrived in Thailand in April 2021. It was first detected here in a cluster of covid-19 infections traced to a venue in Bangkok’s Thong Lor district. This variant was considered less of a threat because it was found to be less powerful than its predecessors.

Delta variant (B.1.617.2)

This variant was first detected in India. It was found in Thailand in May 2021 after a cluster of Covid-19 cases was found at a construction site in Bangkok’s Lak Si district. It spread rapidly and caused alarm because it was more dangerous than the Alpha variant and caused severe illness even among people who had been fully vaccinated.

Omicron variant

Omicron was first detected in South Africa. It reached Thailand in December 2021. The World Health Organisation announced that it was a variant of concern because it could spread quicker than previous variants even among those who were fully vaccinated.

The variant caused the number of new cases to surge in a short time. Even some people who had previously recovered from Covid-19 became sick again after being infected with this variant.

Thais urged to get booster shots as Covid-19 subvariant’s prevalence increases

Three sub-variants were subsequently detected in Thailand: BA.2, BA.4/BA.5, and BA.2.75. All spread widely.

In October 2022, Thai health officials downgraded the threat posed by Covid-19 from a “dangerous communicable disease” to a “communicable disease under surveillance”. Still, epidemiologists forecast that the disease would be more prevalent in some seasons than others.

Even though prevention measures have been eased, they are still important to protect health, doctors say, adding that the best protection is to continue getting booster shots to increase immunity against the virus. Booster shots also help decrease the severity of symptoms for those who still get infected.

Related stories

Vaccines losing race against new Omicron mutants in Thailand: Dr Yong

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Vaccines losing race against new Omicron mutants in Thailand: Dr Yong

Vaccines losing race against new Omicron mutants in Thailand: Dr Yong

THURSDAY, DECEMBER 08, 2022

The Covid-19 virus is mutating so quickly that new vaccines cannot keep up, leading virologist Dr Yong Poovorawan warned on Thursday.

Writing on Facebook, Yong explained that the Omicron variant that was dominant at the start of the year had since mutated from BA.1 to BA.2, BA.4, BA.5 and BA.2.75 subvariants, respectively.

BA.2.75 has become the dominant strain in Thailand over the past two months, overtaking BA.5 which accounted for most cases in June, he added.

BA.2.75 has sent daily Covid infections in Thailand soaring to over 700 per day in the past week.

However, Yong expects BA.2.75 to be replaced as Thailand’s dominant strain by Omicron BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 subvariants spreading from the West.

“The mutation is happening over time,” he said, adding that genetic changes are occurring too quickly for vaccines to keep up.

Yong also said that the protection offered by second-generation vaccines targeted at Omicron strains was no higher than first-gen vaccines.

But Covid-19’s severity would drop as awareness and immunity in Thailand rise, he added.

He also expects the Covid situation to improve once new antiviral drugs are rolled out.

Related stories:

Don’t wait for newer Covid-19 vaccines, get your jabs now, says top virologist

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Don’t wait for newer Covid-19 vaccines, get your jabs now, says top virologist

Don’t wait for newer Covid-19 vaccines, get your jabs now, says top virologist

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 03, 2022

People should not wait for newer Covid-19 vaccines to arrive before they get their booster shots, a top Thai virologist has advised citing rising cases.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Dr Yong Poovorawan said cases began rising in mid-November and will hit a peak in January. 

However, he said the numbers will start dropping from mid-February before picking up again during the rainy season from June to September.

Hence, he said, it is important for people to boost their immunity right away instead of waiting. He added that though the vaccines available in Thailand target older variants, they are still very effective.

Dr Yong said that though vaccines targeting specific variants may offer more immunity, this protection will reduce over time. But, he said, the more shots and boosters people get, the better chance they will have of preventing severe symptoms.

Hence, he said, everybody should get at least three shots and the fourth one within six months.

Those who received their fourth jab more than six months ago could also get a fifth one because their immunity will have started dropping.

Dr Yong went on to say that Omicron and its BA.1, BA.2, BA.2.75, BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants are still most prevalent in Thailand and had infected nearly 70% of the population. He was citing a study from blood samples in Chonburi.

As for news of Deltacron infections, he said it will not be a problem in Thailand because the main variant is still Omicron.

Related stories

Don’t panic! 10 positives from Thailand’s new wave of Covid-19

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Don’t panic! 10 positives from Thailand’s new wave of Covid-19

Don’t panic! 10 positives from Thailand’s new wave of Covid-19

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 30, 2022

An expert on infectious diseases has revealed 10 positive facts about Thailand’s new wave of Covid-19 and Long Covid.

Dr Thiravat Hemachudha, head of Chulalongkorn University’s Information Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases, shared these facts on his Facebook account on Wednesday:

1. The quicker and wider spread means this Covid-19 wave will end quickly.

2. Covid-19 infections with clear symptoms may be more beneficial in creating stronger future immunity than infections with no symptoms.

3. A combination of immunity from infection and vaccination is better than immunity from vaccination alone. (Thiravat added that he does not encourage people to get infected.)

4. Severity of symptoms depends on patients’ health, frequency of exercise, and diet.

5. The current surge in Covid cases will make people more aware and cautious.

6. Symptoms are likely to be weaker as the number of infected and vaccinated people has increased.

7. New Covid-19 variants and symptoms may not be linked to Long Covid symptoms (according to King’s College London).

8. Long Covid can be treated by exercising, getting sunlight, and eating a diet heavy in fruit vegetables and fish while reducing flour and meat.

9. The mix of coronavirus and other cold-season viruses will boost natural immunity to Covid-19.

10. Covid-19 will eventually become a weaker endemic disease if Thais strengthen their health.

The number of new confirmed cases soared to 4,914 last week, or 702 per day on average.

Patients severely ill with Covid currently number 553. Of these, 319 are on ventilators. Last week also saw an average of 10 Covid-related deaths per day or 74 in total.

Related stories

Infection is as good as vaccine against Covid-19: virologist

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Infection is as good as vaccine against Covid-19: virologist

Infection is as good as vaccine against Covid-19: virologist

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 12, 2022

Thailand’s top virologist believes an infection offers as much immunity against Covid-19 as vaccines do.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, Dr Yong Poovorawan said more people in Thailand are building immunity against the virus via infection, judging by the drop in Covid-19 vaccines administered daily.

However, he advised people to get at least two shots and a booster jab to protect themselves from severe symptoms.

Dr Yong said that if a person picks up a Covid-19 infection after getting three jabs, they will have enough immunity to fight it off with little or no symptoms.

The virologist believes more than 50% of the Thai population has been vaccinated and this number should rise to 70% soon.

He also warned people at risk, namely people who are 60 and above, those with chronic disease, pregnant women and those weighing more than 90 kilos should get vaccinated or they may suffer severe symptoms.

Yong advised the authorities to study the population’s overall vaccination status and plan the dispensation of boosters next year.

Related stories

Virologist calls for immunity study before devising Covid vaccination plan for next year

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https://www.nationthailand.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/40021930

Virologist calls for immunity study before devising Covid vaccination plan for next year

Virologist calls for immunity study before devising Covid vaccination plan for next year

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2022

A study on people’s immunity is necessary to set up a vaccination plan for next year, as Covid-19 will become a seasonal disease, well-known virologist Dr Yong Poovorawan said on Thursday.

In his Facebook post, he said most people had received their booster jab from nature — through Covid-19 infection.

However, he advised people to consider the side-effects thoroughly, as side-effects from Covid-19 infection would be more severe than from receiving the vaccine jab.

“Hence, receiving the vaccine jab is better,” he said, adding that people should receive at least three jabs no matter what the vaccine type.

Yong pointed out that hybrid immunity from the Covid-19 vaccine and infection is quite effective. He estimated that around 70 per cent of people in Thailand had been infected with Covid-19.

“This is why the severity of Covid-19 has decreased,” he said.

Yong expected Covid-19 to become a seasonal disease from now on as people get on with their normal life.

However, the elderly, pregnant women and patients with underlying diseases would be most vulnerable to Covid-19, he added.

“We have to study people’s immunity to set up a vaccination plan for next year,” he said.

“It is possible that vaccination next year will focus on those vulnerable to Covid-19 and children aged below two years,” he added.

Siriraj faculty researchers up the ante in battle against neglected tropical diseases like dengue

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Siriraj faculty researchers up the ante in battle against neglected tropical diseases like dengue

Siriraj faculty researchers up the ante in battle against neglected tropical diseases like dengue

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2022

The Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University, is working with international agencies to tackle neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), especially dengue fever.

According to the faculty, 24 per cent of the world’s population was affected by NTDs, such as leprosy, filariasis, tuberculosis and dengue fever. Meanwhile, 70 per cent of the global dengue fever cases were in Asia.

As many as 19,380 dengue fever cases were found in Thailand from January 1 to August 24 this year. Most patients were children and adolescents. During the period, 17 people reportedly died due to dengue fever.

The faculty’s former dean and consultant, Prof Dr Prasit Watanapa, said NTDs are largely ignored by mainstream medical science because they do not represent clear viable commercial markets for the private sector.

This continues to hinder the progress in medical research and development, and therapeutic solutions, he pointed out.

“NTDs continue to affect one in five people in the world. A staggering 1.7 billion people affected are from the poorest communities,” he said.

Prof Dr Prasit WatanapaProf Dr Prasit Watanapa

He said that collaborative efforts from individuals, organisations and governments were necessary to control, prevent and eliminate NTDs.

He added that the faculty had signed a partnership agreement with the Drugs for Neglected Disease initiative (DNDi) on January 25 to develop accessible and effective prevention and treatment for dengue fever for a period of five years.

“There is a long way to go, but the collaboration to tackle NTDs will never happen if we do not start and work together,” he added.

Prof Apichat AsavamongkonkulProf Apichat Asavamongkonkul

Meanwhile, faculty dean Prof Apichat Asavamongkonkul said they have set up strategies to eliminate NTDs in the next four years, including cross-sector partnerships, building strong political will and generating resources necessary to eliminate the disease.

He added that there is an opportunity to apply our collective knowledge in endemic countries to form collaborations to address NTDs.

“Collaborations to address NTDs is very challenging, but we can do it,” he said.

Fears more Thai women would turn to e-cigarettes

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Fears more Thai women would turn to e-cigarettes

Fears more Thai women would turn to e-cigarettes

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2022

Teenage women worldwide, and especially in Asia, smoke more electric cigarettes than men, the Action on Smoking and Health Foundation Thailand said on Tuesday, citing World Health Organisation data, as a behavioural expert expected Thai women to increasingly take to e-cigarettes.

Foundation president Prakit Vathesatogkit said more teenage women smoke e-cigarettes as manufacturers use over 16,000 types of aroma additives, plus there is no stench from burning while the devices are beautiful and small in size that they can be easily hidden.

“According to British data in 2020, up to 10.4 per cent of 600,000 pregnant women smoke,” Prakit said, adding that this proved nicotine in e-cigarettes can make people addicted easily.

He said smoking during pregnancy could put women at risk of miscarriage or premature birth while their babies could be at risk of low weight, disability or even death.

It’s harder to convince e-cigarette smokers to kick the habit than conventional smokers due to widespread misunderstanding that e-cigarettes are less dangerous, Prakit said.

“Hence, we urge parents, teachers and media outlets to create awareness of e-cigarette dangers among children in a bid to protect them from addiction.”

Meanwhile, Sarunya Benjakul, deputy chief of Mahidol University’s Department of Health Education and Behavioural Sciences, expected more and more Thai women to take to e-cigarettes even though the number of women who presently smoke these cigarettes is low.

Citing Department of Health data last year, she explained that 34.7 per cent of Thai men smoke e-cigarettes compared to only 1.3 per cent of women.

“Among teens aged 13-17 years, 18.7 per cent of males smoke e-cigarettes compared to 8.9 per cent women,” she explained.

Fears more Thai women would turn to e-cigarettes

Separately, the National Health Security Office (NHSO) said the National Telephone Quit Smoking Centre (Quitline 1600) had helped 17 per cent of smokers to quit the habit and saved social costs by up to 10,333 baht per smoker.

NHSO secretary-general Jadet Thammathat-aree said the office aims to attract 21,400 smokers to use the Quitline 1600 service annually.

“The NHSO will cooperate with the Department of Health to evaluate the Quitline 1600 operation,” he added.

Out with the old, in with the new: Six post-Covid office trends that focus on right location, better work atmosphere

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https://www.nationthailand.com/pr-news/lifestyle/health-wellness/40020926

Out with the old, in with the new: Six post-Covid office trends that focus on right location, better work atmosphere

Out with the old, in with the new: Six post-Covid office trends that focus on right location, better work atmosphere

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2022

REDPAPER, a report providing an insight into data and trends in Thailand’s real estate industry by Frasers Property (Thailand), reveals six post-Covid work trends preferred by salaried employees from different generations.

The report, written in collaboration with Numbers 10 Research, shows people prefer “balance” and “value” in various aspects of life. It also highlights the attractive qualities of offices and buildings that motivate a full return to onsite work.

The study learned that preferences are given to green spaces, flexible working hours/workstations that meet individual needs, convenient locations that are reachable by either BTS or MRT as well as proximity to lifestyle venues to perfectly maintain a work-life balance.

Hence, the report recommends that companies improve their overall office atmosphere and consider the right office location to retain and attract New Gen employees.

It analyzes work trends and quality work environments that respond to the needs and lifestyles of employees of all ages after having worked from home during the pandemic.

According to the survey,  more than 71% of employees are now required to work from the office, resulting in a shift from work trends from the pre-Covid period, and affecting people’s decisions on where to work today.

REDPAPER reveals the preferences of today’s salaried workers who look for ‘balance’ and ‘value’ in their professional and personal lives, reflected in six work trends:

1. Non-stressful Work; 2. Career Advancement; 3. Work-life Balance; 4. Upskill & Reskill Development; 5. Accessibility and Facilities; and 6. Time for Family.

By incorporating these trends, companies can improve their office environments so that employees are motivated to work in the post-COVID era. It is equally important to choose a quality office building in a convenient location that is accessible by different transportation options, with a pleasant atmosphere and areas for employees to relax to help reduce their stress from work. In addition, an emphasis should be placed on developing new knowledge, skills and work methods to increase the performance of employees, guaranteeing good results and happy work life. 

REDPAPER also highlights the five most important things that office workers want in the workplace:

1. Green spaces to enhance the work atmosphere and improve air quality; 2. A flexible office policy without fixed hours of onsite work; 3. A pantry area for eating and relaxing during the day; 4. Open spaces with flexible seating or hot desking to create a pleasant work atmosphere with the freedom to choose a workstation; and 5. Well-allocated spaces to achieve efficient work. 

This post-Covid survey reflects how employees of all ages are increasingly focused on two main factors – the office environment and location, which can offer balance in their lives while maintaining the lifestyle they have been familiar with since the work-from-home boom began. It further indicates that they are more likely to choose to work with a company that better – and more precisely satisfies their work preferences, especially for Gen Z, which includes those who have recently reached working age, and will be playing a crucial role in organizations in the future. All things considered, to retain and attract new-gen talents to join and stay with an organization, companies should focus on these two key issues in order to succeed and flourish despite the shift in working styles.

Frasers Property (Thailand) Public Company 

people in Asia view mental health as a critical concern, yet are unlikely to seek external support

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people in Asia view mental health as a critical concern, yet are unlikely to seek external support

people in Asia view mental health as a critical concern, yet are unlikely to seek external support

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2022

October 10, was World Mental Health Day. FWD Group released the findings from its international mental health survey, one of the largest completed in Asia, to identify insights and ideas to help promote better overall emotional well-being.

FWD Group Holdings Limited (“FWD Group”) on Monday released the findings from its international mental health survey, one of the largest completed in Asia, to identify insights and ideas to help promote better overall emotional well-being .

In collaboration with Blackbox, an independent research company, the survey interviewed more than 10,000 people across 16 international markets between June and July 2022, including nine markets where FWD operates: Cambodia; Hong Kong; Indonesia; Japan; Malaysia; the Philippines; Singapore; Thailand and Vietnam.

Sim Preston, Managing Director and Group Chief Operating Officer, FWD Group, said, “While it’s great that mental health is gaining more and more awareness, especially in Asia, the stigma and cost of treatment remain barriers for people to seek the help they need. Published on World Mental Health Day, we hope this survey contributes insights and ideas that can help further raise awareness for this critical issue. As an insurer, we also look forward to making mental health protection more inclusive and focused on building mind strength, to enable people to celebrate living.”

While the survey found that 65% of people in Asia believe that mental health will become a critical issue in the coming year, only one-third of them prefer discussing their concerns externally. Given the cultural and societal stigmas associated with mental health, the survey findings showed that reframing mental health in a more positive way, such as ‘mind strength’, may reduce the stigma attached to the more traditional term and encourage more people in the region to open up about their challenges.

people in Asia view mental health as a critical concern, yet are unlikely to seek external support

Cost of treatment was also identified as one of the most significant barriers to receiving care for mental health challenges in Asia, and 76% of respondents expressed their interest in exploring insurance options to address such challenges. The survey also uncovered that people in Asia worry about their families and jobs, which can lead to a higher rate of mental health challenges.

“Our survey showed that contributing factors to mental stress include concerns about a wide range of family responsibilities, coupled with work-related stress, rising inflation and post-pandemic adjustment. Given we also know that people may not be comfortable seeking help externally as individuals, the family assumes a particularly important role. Opening up and addressing these challenges as a family unit first instead of individually, can make a difference as people may feel more comfortable,” added Joanna Chu, Group Head of Product Proposition,  FWD Group.

Overall key findings of the survey include:

Mental health issues will become more prominent around the world, yet stigma remains
65% of people in Asia believe mental health will be one of the most critical issues in the coming year

74% of people said they had experienced (16%) or known someone close (28%) and distant (30%) to them who had suffered from mental health challenges

People in Asia place a higher value on self-help rather than seeking outside assistance, only 34% prefer discussing issues openly with others

31% of people in Asia believe renaming “mental health” can help people to open up

people in Asia view mental health as a critical concern, yet are unlikely to seek external support

Inflation and the future of children/family are top concerns leading to mental health challenges today
Concerns around inflation (47%) cause more mental health challenges than post-pandemic adjustment (30%)

People in Asia worry about their jobs (31%) and family-related concerns, including the future of children/family (34%) and increasing family responsibilities (32%)

People in Asia are interested in insurance options for mental health
76% of people want to explore insurance to assist them in dealing with mental health challenges

The cost of treatment is one of the most significant barriers to receiving mental health care in Asia; 40% of people in Asia say the cost of treatment is the biggest impediment to seeking outside help

FGS Global team