Vaccinations, mutations among reasons why Omicron is less potent, says Thai virologist

Photo from AFP

Dr. Yong Poovorawan, chief of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at the Faculty of Medicine of Chulalongkorn University, has offered an explanation as to why the Omicron variant is not as potent as and causes less severe symptoms than other COVID-19 strains.

Writing in his Facebook post today (Wednesday), he suggested the following:

  • Although more children are being infected by the Omicron variant, their conditions are not severe and most experience flu-like symptoms or no symptoms at all, unlike older people, whose condition tends to be more serious, depending on age.
  • Since most adults, including the elderly, have been inoculated, their symptoms tend to be less serious.
  • The SARS-CoV-2 virus, according to studies in South Africa, has mutated to the extent that the Omicron variant has become less potent than the Delta variant.
  • From lab studies, the Omicron variant tends to concentrate in the upper respiratory tract, instead of the lungs, resulting to fewer cases of lung infection.
  • According to Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, a microorganism, such as the virus, is constantly adapting, to enable it to enter the host cells for its own survival, while humans who have been infected with a virus will build up immunity to it. If the virus kills the host, it would have nowhere to multiply and survive.

Citing the case of Denmark, during the COVID-19 Alpha variant pandemic in 2020-21, Dr. Yong noted that the average daily infection rate over a week was 3,332 with 30 fatalities in 2020, but one year later, the average daily infections are 41,035, but deaths dropped to 12.

Worldwide, daily infections have now surged to more than a million, but the average fatality rate has dropped.

As more than nine billion doses of vaccines have been administered so far, he estimates that billions of people have now developed immunity, either from vaccines or from infection, resulting in the reduction in severity of symptoms and deaths.


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