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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Top virologist warns of vaccine limitations against South African, Brazilian variants

Maya Taylor

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PHOTO: Steven Cornfield on Unsplash

A prominent Thai virologist says Thailand must prevent the arrival of the South African (also known as 20H/501Y.V2, B.1.351 lineage) or Brazilian Covid-19 (B.1.1.248) variants, warning that vaccines are not fully effective against those strains, or at least there is not enough conclusive information about their efficacy against the new variants at this stage.

Yong Poovorawan from Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University was addressing a press conference at the Public Health Ministry when he issued the warning.

“We have to be cautious about which novel variants are being imported into our country.”

Yong says the surfaces of the variants carry different protein spikes to those found in the original strain of the virus. This means the virus takes on a different shape, making it more difficult for the human immune system to recognise it.

The Bangkok Post reports that Yong has suggested improved quarantine to keep variants out, but admits this is not fool-proof, given the recent arrival of the UK, or B.1.1.7, variant. He is also calling on the public not to be so concerned about which vaccine they are offered, insisting all the vaccines have been proven safe and effective at reducing serious illness (with very few side effects).

“We can be assured about the quality and efficacy of the vaccines, including those that we have here in Thailand.”

However, over the weekend, a prominent disease control expert in China admitted that their country’s Covid-19 vaccines have “low” effectiveness. There is speculation the country plans to produce mRNA-based vaccines, similar to those manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, which China has previously tried to discredit.

The overall efficacy of the Sinovac vaccine, the most well-known of the four developed in China, was found to be as low as 50.4% during late stage trials in Brazil although the performance was better in Indonesia and Turkey.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. Avatar

    toby andrews

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 11:01 am

    You are not wrong Yong, but who cares very few persons are being vaccinated in Thailand anyway.
    0.06 percent?
    A joke!!

  2. Avatar

    Gosport

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 11:11 am

    The problem is they don’t know how to make the vaccine roll out,variants pop up every day, they are waiting for cure all jab.

    China does not say its vaccine low efficacy, read China Daily.

  3. Avatar

    EdwardV

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 11:32 am

    “ which China has previously tried to discredit.” – would expect nothing less.

  4. Avatar

    Dreqo

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 11:36 am

    Whelp, you’ll just have to keep the borders closed to tourists from everywhere, for the next decade I guess.

  5. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 11:43 am

    Increasing doubts about the effectiveness of Astra Zeneca against variants, too, with the figure of “10%” being suggested by some studies.

  6. Avatar

    Ian Bromley

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    The AstraZeneca vaccine is 10% effective against the South African variant. The South African government got rid of its supply of this vaccine and replaced it with the J&J one which is about 50% effective and is a single shot. They have enough of this vaccine to cover their entire population this year. Kinda makes Thailand look like the bunch of amateurs they truly are. The creation of a new Thai vaccine procurement team, minus the delightful Anutin, which was announced yesterday indicates panic at the top because the AstraZeneca production here is not going to meet the targets, just like in Brazil where it has delivered 4% of contracted volume despite using a very experienced production partner, unlike the production novices here. Get ready for a debacle.

  7. Avatar

    Jesus Monroe

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 2:17 pm

    Well if the china daily says its vaccine is not low efficacy it must be the truth…….they never lie…….

  8. Avatar

    Jesus Monroe

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 2:19 pm

    Astra Zeneca is history…….

  9. Avatar

    Alavan

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 4:26 pm

    Check CNN today.
    “Chinese Covid-19 vaccine efficacy is ‘not high,’ top health official admits”, and that from a Chinese official.

  10. Avatar

    Simon Small

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 4:53 pm

    Seems that way, Jesus Monroe, and some won’t be raking it in as they thought they would.

    As Ian Bromley said, as others have before, stand by for the fallout.

  11. Avatar

    John2

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 7:23 pm

    Yong is saying the same thing as I have been saying for a while, its the Brazilian version they need to watch out for. Lock downs and forgetting tourism is the only way forward.

  12. Avatar

    GeorgeA

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 11:00 pm

    CCP doesn’t care which vaccine actually works best, they will always say theirs is the best

  13. Avatar

    LondonAl

    Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at 2:45 am

    “The AstraZeneca vaccine is 10% effective against the South African variant”, says one tiny study of 2,000 people, surprisingly you forgot to mention that in this same study there were no cases of hospitalization for severe Covid-19 or deaths observed.

  14. Avatar

    Social Observer

    Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at 8:01 am

    The doctor says the South African and Brazilian variants must be kept out of Thailand. And does he propose to do that ? It’s very likely those variants are circulating widely in Thailand and steadily becoming the dominant strains.

  15. Avatar

    Nipral

    Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    There is no such a thing as a Thai prominent virologist !

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket red zone list adds Krabi, Trang, Ranong, Phatthalung

Neill Fronde

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FILE PHOTO: The Phuket checkpoint now lists 25 provinces as a red zone.

Visitors to Phuket from Krabi, Trang, Ranong, and Phatthalung will now have to prove they’re vaccinated or have a negative Covid-19 test within 72 hours of arrival, as they’ve been added to the red zone province list. People entering without those qualifications will have to take a rapid antigen test on the spot before being allowed into Phuket.

The 4 provinces join a group of 21 other provinces already on the Phuket red zone list requiring strict measures to enter. That list even includes Phuket itself, as people do exit the province have to prove a negative test or vaccination before being allowed to re-enter.

Phuket’s vice governor made the announcement yesterday after the governor signed the order and put it into effect until at least May 15th. That same order requires all trucks transporting goods to travel from 11 pm to 5 am, the nighttime hours that other people are not allowed to enter the island. Phuket recently closed its entry checkpoints from late night to early morning after reports of exhaustion from the health officials working to test everyone or verify their credentials.

Delivery drivers will also have to pass the same requirements as red zone province arrivals before entering Phuket. Any driver who does not have a negative test within 72 hours or proof that they’ve received both doses of a vaccine approved by Thailand’s Food and Drug Administration, will be forced to wait until the regular checkpoint opens at 5 am to receive a rapid antigen test.

Over 40,000 people from red zones have now been tested at the checkpoint to enter Phuket. In the first week of the requirement which began on April 22, health officials tested more than 22,000 people, overwhelming staff and prompting the government to close the entrance from 11 pm to 5 am to give checkpoint workers a break.

The 25 provinces currently classified as a red zone for entering Phuket are as follows:

Bangkok Nakhon Pathom Pathum Thani Rayong Suphan Buri
Chiang Mai Nakhon Ratchasima Phatthalung Sa Kaeo Surat Thani
Chonburi Nakhon Sri Thammarat Phuket Samut Prakan Tak
Khon Kaen Narathiwat Prachuap Khiri Khan Samut Sakhon Trang
Krabi Nonthaburi Ranong Songkhla Udon Thani

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

BMA admits Covid virus spreading fast in Bangkok, speeds up testing and jabs

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Stock photo via Flickr

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration says it is speeding up mass Covid-19 testing and inoculations in communities hit strongly by the virus, after admitting the virus is spreading fast in Thailand’s capital.

The city clerk says the administration, along with the Public Health Ministry and other agencies, are speeding up the collection of nasal swabs for Covid-19 tests, with a plan to test 3,000 people in high-risk groups per day. Those people deemed to be at an increased risk of the virus have been clustered by districts, with testing units in each of the 6 districts…

Laksi district, 70 Pansa Min Buri park in Min Buri district, Huai Khwang stadium in Huai Khwang district, under the Rama III expressway in Yannawa district, a public park under Rama VIII bridge in Bang Phlad district and The Mall Bangkae shopping centre in Bang Kae district.

The virus has been found in densely populated, low-income areas such as the Klong Toey community in Klong Toey district, Bon Kai community in Pathumwan district and Ban Khing community and The Mall Bangkae in Bang Kae district. In an effort to help those residents stay at home to prevent the possible spreading of the coronavirus, community-level organisations are teaming up to provide food, water, and supplements to those in the areas.

But stay at home orders are a problem for many as starvation is more frightening than the virus and 90% of residents in the slum communities still need to leave for work each day to keep food on the table. The daily average income for those in the slums is around 120 to 150 baht. The CCSA yesterday declared that is is focusing on containing major Covid clusters in 3 key Bangkok communities – the Klong Toey ‘slums’, Bon Kai in Pathumwan and Ban Khing in the Bang Kae district, on the west side of the Chao Phraya.

Today’s nationwide Covid update includes compiling the regional totals from yesterday, with a total of 27 new Covid-related deaths and 2,044 new Covid-19 infections over the past 24 hours. The numbers continue a statistically consistent rise in the number of Covid infections over the past 2 weeks.

Meanwhile, talking about Phuket’s plans to open in July, the Tourism and Sports Minister, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn, said yesterday that the number of new cases on the island must reach zero before the government can contemplate the ‘Sandbox’ plan for no-quarantine travel.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Phuket visitor Covid-19 rapid antigen testing may end May 15

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: Covid-19 rapid tests may be discontinued in Phuket. (via Wikimedia)

In a live broadcast, Phuket’s Vice Governor Piyapong Choowong said officials will consider discontinuing Covid-19 rapid antigen testing for people arriving into Phuket after May 15. The interview from the Phuket Check Point at Tha Chatchai yesterday seems to contradict a recent statement from the governor launching additional rapid testing from today.

Entry to Phuket since April 22 has been limited for travellers from red zone provinces, requiring proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test within the last 72 hours. Anyone arriving without either of these would be screened on the spot with rapid antigen tests. Though originally offered for 300 baht per person, controversy arose over Thailand’s 2-tier pricing as it was announced that testing would be free for Thai people and 500 baht for foreigners.

The National Health Security Office provided 40 billion baht for testing in Phuket, allowing free testing for nationals, but as that funding is used up, Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew announced that the testing will no longer be free for Thai people after May 15. Phuket does not have the budget for free rapid antigen testing so they will likely be forced to require payment after that date.

The current testing has seen a decline in positive Covid-19 infections, not finding any new cases for several days, prompting the government to rethink whether the current system of rapid testing those who are not vaccinated or holding a recent negative test certificate is worth the money spent.

Over 40,000 people have been tested since the program began April 22 until the current figures on May 5, with only 22 covid infections identified. Furthermore, 5 of those infections turned out to be false positives.

The vice-governor conceded that Phuket has Covid-19 outbreak problems with growing infections every day, but explains that the infections are from within the community and not from outside visitors. The latest infections stem in large part from gambling get-togethers without proper Covid-19 safety.

As of now, the rapid antigen testing will continue until the May 15 cut off, but government officials are still debating whether to continue testing and whether funding will exist for it after that date.

The NHSO has recently hinted that they will approve more funds to continue testing, a signal that had not been received before the governor’s announcement on Wednesday about the rapid antigen testing.

The vice-governor stressed that the situation is constantly evolving and that new information it’s shared frequently, and often out of local control. He urges everyone to pay attention to forthcoming announcements.

SOURCE: The Phuket News

 

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