12 July 2024

COVID-19 pandemic may enter the post-pandemic stage this year, due to mass vaccinations and the fact that the Omicron variant is less potent than Delta, though it is more transmissible, said Thailand’s Department of Disease Control (DDC) Director-General Dr. Opart Karnkawinpong today (Tuesday).

He noted that more than 10 billion vaccine doses have been administered globally, including 115 million doses in Thailand.

He explained that a pandemic normally has three stages, pre-pandemic, pandemic and post-pandemic, and it is believed that the world may soon pass the pandemic phase and and then enter the post-pandemic stage, adding that the Omicron variant may be contained and will eventually turn into a localised or seasonal disease, such as dengue fever, which is normally spread during the rainy season.

He said, though, that it will take several years of observing the pattern of the epidemic before it can be classified as a seasonal disease.

As far as Thailand is concerned, Dr. Opart said that, while many countries are experiencing an exponential increase in Omicron variant cases, Thailand has managed to keep the spread under control, with daily new infections remaining below 10,000 since the beginning of this year. Most of the infections are among small groups of people engaging in group activities, such as dining together.

He said that the committee responsible for strengthening immunity against COVID-19 has revised the vaccination guidelines as follows:

  • Those who have symptoms after receiving the first dose of the Pfizer mRNA vaccine can switch to the AstraZeneca vaccine for the second dose, as recommended by the World Health Organization.
  • Those who have been infected with COVID-19 can receive vaccination within a month, instead of three months, after recovery.
  • Those who have received two doses of AstraZeneca can now choose the same vaccine as a booster, if they feel uncomfortable with a booster of mRNA vaccine.
  • Those aged 12-17, who have received two Sinopharm doses for at least four weeks, can receive a Pfizer booster shot.
  • Young children, aged 3 and over, can receive the Sinovac vaccine once an approval for its use is granted by the Thai Food and Drug Administration.