Thailand’s XBB Strain: Boosters Urged Before Rainy Season

Approximately 52% of recent Covid-19 cases in Thailand are attributed to the XBB sub-strain of the Omicron variant, reports the Centre for Medical Genomics. A leading physician urges the public to receive a booster shot before the rainy season commences.

The XBB variant’s sub-strains have been held responsible for the recent surge in Covid-19 cases worldwide, causing the World Health Organization (WHO) to reclassify the XBB.1.16 sub-substrain from a “variant under monitoring” to a “variant of interest.”

In Thailand, 34 current cases are caused by the XBB1.15 sub-strain, accounting for approximately 15% of all Covid-19 cases in the nation, as per Ramathibodi Hospital’s Centre for Medical Genomics.

The center is in the process of creating a test kit that specifically targets the XBB sub-variant, utilizing mass array genotyping technology.

Additionally, it is striving to enhance its antigen test kits to identify the sub-strain responsible for a patient’s infection.

This work is anticipated to be finished within a fortnight.

The center’s genomic analysis of XBB.1.16 predicts that the sub-variant will become the dominant sub-strain in Thailand in the upcoming months.

Yong Poovorawan, leader of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University, stated on his Facebook page on Sunday that Covid-19 vaccinations should be administered annually, similar to flu shots.

He stressed that the Covid-19 vaccine does not prevent infection.

Instead, it protects the recipient from severe symptoms, hospitalization, and death, particularly for individuals in vulnerable groups.

“The outbreak of infections usually starts at the beginning of the rainy season or the beginning of the school semester. Therefore, the timely period to receive booster shots is during May to June,” he penned.

Both Covid-19 and flu vaccines will be accessible at hospitals throughout the country starting May 1.

Vaccination against both illnesses is recommended for members of the “608” vulnerable group, which encompasses senior citizens, those with underlying conditions, medical personnel, and frontline workers.

Covid-19 vaccines can also be obtained at hospitals and medical centers registered with the National Health Security Office.

A directory of such hospitals can be found on the Pao Tang mobile app.

Advance reservations for vaccinations in Bangkok can be made through the app from April 17 to August 31.