Thailand is currently grappling with an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, as reported by the Department of Disease Control (DDC). The figures, while possibly not fully reflective of the overall situation, are nonetheless cause for concern. In the period from January 14th to January 20th, a total of 718 individuals were admitted to hospitals due to the severity of their COVID-19 symptoms. The average daily admissions during this period rose to 102, compared to 89 in the previous week. Alongside this rise, there has also been a notable increase in the number of deaths, with 11 individuals losing their lives to COVID-19. Most of the deceased were elderly individuals with pre-existing comorbidities. It is worth mentioning that 5 of these individuals had completed the two-dose COVID-19 vaccine regimen, while the remaining 6 were unvaccinated. Further analysis reveals that out of the new hospital admissions, 209 individuals were suffering from serious acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) conditions with compromised lungs. Among the 149 individuals requiring ventilators, 142 were fully vaccinated individuals who had even received booster shots, while only 42 were unvaccinated. These findings raise valid questions regarding the efficacy of vaccines and boosters in guarding against severe disease.
Thai doctors and healthcare professionals have expressed mounting concerns regarding the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and their potential adverse effects. A recent study conducted in Thailand has demonstrated that the administration of homologous doses of the Pfizer RNA vaccine may increase the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis. This study has added fuel to the ongoing debate surrounding the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines.
While some attribute the current surge in cases to the JN.1 variant, it is important to acknowledge the presence of numerous other SARS-CoV-2 strains and sub-lineages circulating in Thailand. These variants may also be playing a significant role in the surge, which is expected to manifest as a prolonged wave rather than a sudden spike or decline. It is crucial to take into account the distinct sub-lineages and mutations within the JN.1 variant, as they potentially exhibit different pathogenic behaviors. In-depth studies are required to ascertain the impact of these strains on disease severity.
Thai health authorities are underscoring the importance of remaining vigilant and not letting one’s guard down in light of the escalating cases. Individuals are strongly advised to wear face masks in crowded places, practice frequent hand hygiene, and undergo a COVID-19 antigen test if they develop flu-like symptoms. It is imperative that everyone maintains a state of alertness and takes the necessary precautions to curb the spread of the virus.