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Dr. Yong Poovorawan on Covid-19: No Booster Needed for Most as Virus Becomes Milder

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Most people don’t need a booster shot for the latest Covid-19 strain, except for vulnerable groups and the unvaccinated, since symptoms are relatively mild and the vaccine must be purchased, according to virologist Yong Poovorawan. Dr. Yong, from the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University, explained that the virus’s severity has consistently decreased, much like other respiratory illnesses, largely due to high vaccination rates and herd immunity.

Nearly 90% of the population has now been infected by the virus. The remaining group—primarily elderly individuals who spend most of their time at home—have managed to avoid infection since the pandemic’s onset.

As Covid-19 has become endemic, seasonal flare-ups should be expected just like other respiratory diseases. In Thailand, these outbreaks tend to occur during the rainy season, while countries with long winters will see a surge in infections due to prolonged cold weather.

“In Thailand, Covid-19 outbreaks are common during the rainy season or at the start of a new school semester,” Dr. Yong stated. “Most patients exhibit mild symptoms and can take care of themselves,” he added, noting that “hospitalization rates are also lower than during the same period last year.”

Dr. Yong projected that the cumulative number of deaths from Covid-19 this year should not exceed 300, a figure comparable to influenza. He also expects the severity of Covid-19 and the hospitalization rate to ease further.

When asked about Covid-19 vaccines, Dr. Yong mentioned that the National Health Security Office (NHSO) no longer receives subsidies to distribute them free of charge. According to him, there is no need for healthy children, adults, or elderly people to get booster shots due to the relatively high price.

“Anyone wishing to be vaccinated must pay for it out of their own pocket, and the vaccine is expensive,” he said. “The demand for the vaccine has dropped, so supplies are limited, driving up retail costs,” he elaborated.

The Department of Disease Control (DDC) released a weekly report on Covid-19 infections nationwide between May 26 and June 1. It found that 1,863 cases are being treated in hospitals, with a weekly average of six deaths. The number of cases has reached 20,483, with 132 deaths.

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