Thailand set to declare Covid-19 as endemic regardless of WHO caution

The National Communicable Disease Committee said this week that it wants Covid-19 to be regarded as an endemic disease before the end of 2022.

Deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said the government was ready to amend regulations that would see a new normal where Covid-19 is treated like a seasonal or contagious disease.

The government said this would include the setting up of clinics to facilitate walk-in vaccinations against the virus.

Dr Supakit Sirilak, the Director of the Department of Medical Sciences (DMSC), said the decision to move towards endemic status was due to the improvement of infection numbers coupled with low fatality numbers.

The situation was controllable, Supakit said.

Covid situation

The DMSC expects Omicron to become the dominating variant, replacing Delta, by the end of this month.

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said Thailand has administered nearly 114 billion Covid vaccine doses and 70 per cent of the population have received two doses with 20 per cent receiving three doses.

Anutin said that two doses for most people should be enough to fight back against Omicron especially people who have received mixed doses because it has been shown to heighten immunity.

As for medical workers, 100 per cent of them have already received four doses, he said.

The minister also said that the government had ordered more AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines and the first batch of 300,000 doses of Pfizer’s vaccine for children age 5-11 had arrived this week.

The plan is to acquire 10 million doses of the paediatric vaccine, he said.

Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, Chief of the Department of Disease Control, said on January 14 said that the country is a step ahead of the WHO when comes to the management of Covid.  

Permanent health secretary Kiattiphum Wongrajit said on Thursday that Thailand plans to declare Covid as an endemic disease before the end of this year, regardless of the World Health Organization’s confirmation.

The WHO warned on January 11 against treating Covid as endemic because the outbreak of Omicron is still out of control in many areas and new variants could crop up.

Kiattiphum said the disease can still spread but it is no longer severe and the current fatality rate is “acceptable” in Thailand.

He said the most important things is that people are vaccinated against it and the health system is capable of handling it.

He said waiting for the disease to become an endemic by itself or waiting for the WHO to say so could take too long a time.

Once Covid is declared as an endemic by Thailand there should be no more restriction and lockdown measures.

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