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Understanding Covid-19 UK variant as it hits Thailand



PHOTO: Thailand's vaccines are less effective against the UK variant of Covid-19

The so-called UK variant of Covid-19, a strain that is 1.7 times more contagious and deadly, has arrived in Thailand, present in the cluster in Bangkok’s upscale Thong Lor area that has spawned the pandemic third wave. Here’s why you should care.

Referred to as the B117 variant, it first emerged in the UK county of Kent, though new research shows it may have been slowly spreading since September 2020. Its spread has accelerated quickly and is now the most prominent strain of Covid-19 in the UK. Studies show that the B117 strain is more deadly, with one study showing deaths from UK variant infections were 30 to 100% higher than earlier variants. The strain also has at least 23 mutations identified so far.

Virologists suspect that the UK variant of Covid-19 may have entered Thailand through Cambodia, as the two countries are experiencing similar infection surges. Thailand is the 42nd country to be infected with the variant. From April 1st, the 14 day mandatory quarantine was relaxed to only 10 days, which may have helped the B117 strain proliferate in Thailand. The Medical Sciences Department expects more detail on the origins in the next few days, after a detailed analysis.

One major problem this new strain presents is vaccine efficiency. Sinopharm, Pfizer and Moderna all look to be fairly effective against the UK variant, but Sinovac and AstraZeneca, the two vaccines currently available in Thailand are less promising. Both vaccines have tested less effective against B117, but AstraZeneca is still 70% effective, according to reports.

Unfortunately Thailand only has less than 120,000 AstraZeneca doses at this stage, but Thailand will soon produce AstraZeneca locally, under license, which is hoped to hasten the process.

Thailand’s Disease Control Department said over the weekend weekend that SinoVac and AstraZeneca meet the World Health Organisation standards and Thailand will push forward with its vaccination plan with the 2 million SinoVac doses they have already procured, a million of which have already arrived and are currently being rolled out. More than half a million jabs have been administered so far, and the DCD hopes 10 million vaccines will be given per month from June on.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World


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  1. john brig

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 11:48 am

    No commenters?

  2. James

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 11:58 am

    Kent is not a city. Kent is county. The city of Canterbury is in Kent. Much like San Francisco is a city in the state of California.

  3. Johnny from Ossan

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 12:10 pm

    All my comments get deleted cos im skeptical of a lot of information we’re told so now I dont feel like posting anymore

  4. Matt

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 12:28 pm

    Being as the UK, where the B117 strain was first identified, primarily used the AstraZeneca vaccine and has managed to get the B117 strain under control I wouldn’t be concerned the vaccines efficacy. Seems to have done the job.

  5. Phuket Tony

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 12:42 pm

    Uk Variant…

    And what about if we get a Indian variant, Singaporean variant, Mexican Variant, Russian variant, Canadian Variant, Bolivian Variant, Aussie Variant.?? Do we really keep closing down and living this way… really…??

    At some point we need to just deal with this flu and all others, as we cannot go on with what the government ( and media ) are doing… stop living in fear when you should and take back your life..!

  6. Slugger

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 1:09 pm

    Too many amateur professors post on here.

  7. Michael

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 1:19 pm

    @ Johny I’m happy to hear that the Thaiger is taking action against people spreading misinformation because they just don’t want to understand.

    My compliments to the moderators here! 😉

  8. Olga

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    How can comment on nonsense? In this article, stupidity shines so brightly that there are no words for comment.

  9. Sailor

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    Suggesting that relaxation of the mandatory Quarantine from 14 days to 10 days may have contributed to B117 variant spreading seems illogical. If doing the math, entering Thailand 1st of April where the Quarantine period was relaxed, one would be released from Quarantine 12th April. The B117 Covid varriant popped up well before this date within the Kingdom.

  10. Dreqo

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 4:35 pm

    “UK variant.” Purposeful misnomer.

  11. Mads

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 6:02 pm

    The 3rd world country United States can accomplish 4 mio vaccinations per day, but the far superior Thailand only 10 mio per month. Makes no sense.

  12. John Brown

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 7:50 pm

    B1.1.7 has been in the wild in Thailand since December. This is a sub-strain that contains additional mutations including the immune evasive E484K, which makes this basically equivalent to the much worse “South Africa” variant (B.1.351). This one’s been here for over 3 weeks and all the vaccines are ineffective against it. Everyone inside knows. We’re not going to recover from this wave without a full lockdown. The authorities have blood on their hands with this atrocious cover-up.

  13. edwardm

    Monday, April 12, 2021 at 7:58 pm

    “Here’s why you should care”. Here’s why you should NOT care: there isn’t a darn thing you can really do about it except wear a mask and get a vaccine when you can.

  14. LondonAl

    Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at 2:37 am

    30 million vaccinated in UK and to my knowledge not one has caught Covid, when they can actually prove the vaccines don’t work against the plethora of variants then I’ll take notice, until such time it’s nothing more than speculation and conjecture

  15. James

    Tuesday, April 13, 2021 at 11:03 am

    Referred to as the B117 variant, it first emerged in the UK county of Kent, thought new research shows…

    Though* new research shows..

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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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