Siriraj Hospital Dean Says Omicron Could Hasten Pandemic’s End

Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital, Professor Dr. Prasit Watanapa, said the world could be nearing the end of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the fast-spreading but less severe Omicron variant could see most people survive to coronavirus infection and develop immunity.

On Tuesday, Prof. Prasit spoke about the Covid-19 situation and stated that the fast-spreading Omicron would replace the more severe Delta variant, indicating that “we are in the latter period of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

“If the majority of the world’s population has Covid-19 and they survive and develop immunity, this will lead to an end of the Covid-19 pandemic, because the global population will have enough immunity, both through vaccination and an infection that is not severe,” he added.

Most worldwide governments expected the pandemic to end in mid or late 2022, but it is still too early for the public to lower their guard against the disease.

Prof. Prasit clarified that people should not expect to develop immunity through infection, as it is “too risky.” He also explained that there was still no evidence to confirm that infected people would be safe and stressed that Covid patients could still transmit the disease to weaker relatives, risking more severe consequences.

The dean said people needed a booster shot about three months after the second dose since two Covid-19 doses were not enough to deal with Omicron. “Booster doses reduce infection and the severity of the disease,” he added.

Prof. Prasit insisted that the disease could be overcome if the world population is vaccinated. There is no evidence yet on whether people need a fourth dose, but “there will be a second generation of Covid-19 vaccines in a few months and people should wait to see their efficacy,” he went on.

He highlighted the situation in the US, where new deaths rose even though global numbers fell as many citizens opposed vaccination.

Thailand has recorded between 7,000 and 8,000 new infections daily for about a week, with a death toll below 20. Moreover, the antiviral drugs used in the country could effectively cope with the Omicron variant, says Prof. Prasit.

However, he warned of a rise in cases in India, as the Delta variant from India had reached the kingdom via Myanmar in just a few weeks after it was discovered. Also, climate change could lead to new diseases, the dean added.