Dr Yong: I don’t think “endemic” means what you think it means.

PHOTO: Endemic is not the right word. (via Princess Bride)

Dr Yong Poovorawan, the country’s outspoken top virologist, is raining on Thailand’s endemic parade. The chief of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at the Faculty of Medicine of Chulalongkorn University pointed out that while the nature of Covid-19 may be evolving over time to be less of a threat, it will never by definition be endemic.

It seems in the Thai government’s fervour to end the Covid-19 pandemic, they overlooked the actual meaning of the words they are announcing, according to Dr. Yong.

en·dem·ic /enˈdemik/
1. (of a disease or condition) regularly found among particular people or in a certain area.
2. (of a plant or animal) native and restricted to a certain place.

As Dr Yong pointed out on his Facebook page, while the term endemic is being thrown around a lot regarding Covid-19, it is unlikely that Covid-19 will become endemic any time in the immediate future. The term is being wildly and gleefully misused and misunderstood throughout Thailand and all sorts of online blogs.

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If Thailand declares that Covid-19 is “endemic”, some people assume that Covid-19 will no longer be a danger in Thailand.

Dr Yong seems to be the first official in Thailand to recognise this misuse of the word, explaining that there are endemic diseases, like Yellow Fever in Africa, but Covid-19 is found in just about every corner of the world and it is unlikely that all the cases globally will fade away.

Covid-19 is more likely to subside globally, reined in by the use of vaccines and growing natural immunity which will lower the mortality rate. Then it will be another respiratory disease that exists around the world, like the seasonal flu.

SOURCE:National News Bureau of Thailand

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Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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