A nurse administered a Covid-19 vaccine in Bangkok on May 11, marking a continued effort in combatting the pandemic. (Photo: Chanat Katanyu)
The Public Health Department reports a decline in Covid-19 related deaths last week, indicating that the prevalent strain is not more contagious or severe. Permanent Secretary Opas Karnkawinpong announced on Monday that there were 42 Covid-related fatalities last week, decreasing from 64 the week before. “The (fatality) rate is starting to fall,” he commented.
A majority of these deaths were among elderly individuals, those with pre-existing health conditions, and pregnant women. Causes of death typically included lung inflammation, respiratory failure, and complications stemming from chronic kidney disease.
“Most of them had not sought the vaccination advised by the health ministry. Some people had fears of side effects,” Dr. Opas stated. “Vaccines reduce symptoms and fatalities. Young family members should take their elders for vaccination. However, sometimes it turns out that the children and grandchildren are the people who are afraid of side effects.” He also recommended annual Covid-19 vaccinations.
Dr. Opas noted that the XBB.1.16 strain is currently circulating in Thailand, but it is not more transmissible or severe than other strains. Covid-19 infection rates have been increasing more rapidly in Greater Bangkok when compared to other provinces.
Most current cases are asymptomatic thanks to vaccination efforts. A survey revealed that 90% of Thai people now have Covid-19 antibodies due to vaccination or previous infection. Dr. Opas explained, “It may now be similar to other respiratory diseases which evolve. After infection, people have antibodies and the disease tries to adapt for co-existence. It is a time of balance between humans and the disease.”
The public health permanent secretary also reassured that there is no shortage of hospital beds for Covid-19 patients. The bed occupancy rate for Covid-19 cases nationwide stands at 22%. Any reported shortage might be attributed to hospitals that have decreased the number of beds allocated for Covid patients, explained Dr. Opas.