Thailand Must Take Scientific Approach With New Variant, Omicron

Thailand Must Take Scientific Approach With New Variant, Omicron

Thailand Must Take Scientific Approach With New Variant, Omicron

Even as countries began to feel cautiously optimistic with re-openings and hope that the pandemic could recede to the background, the threat of a new mutation of the Covid-19 virus, Omicron, is grabbing headlines and creating panic once again. 

The news that a new variant that could be more infectious than the Delta and possibly more resistant to vaccines saw the global markets plunging.

Scientists are racing to understand the characteristics and threat of the strain, designated B1.1.529 while the World Health Organization (WHO) said it would take several weeks before we learn more about the variant.

The B1.1.529 variant, now named Omicron, was first reported to WHO on 24 November 2021 from South Africa, where in recent weeks, infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of the variant. 
Although, Omicron has more mutations than all previously known coronavirus variants and believed to be spreading faster than the Delta variant, scientists have said more studies are needed before concrete results are established about it’s hospitalization and fatality rates. 

Despite countries scrambling to ban flights, the WHO earlier cautioned against imposing travel restrictions due to Omicron.

“ At this point, again, implementing travel measures is being cautioned against,” said spokesman Christian Lindmeier.

What should Thailand’s stance be as we are already in the process of reopening?

We need to take a risk-based and scientific approach based on our learnings from the recent Delta outbreak. 

Apart from banning flights from South Africa, the focus must be back on prevention, vaccination and booster shots.
Public must be warned again about public health and social measures such as wearing well fitting masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing, improving ventilation of indoor spaces, avoiding crowded spaces and getting vaccinated.
The most important measures must be the prompt roll out and completion of vaccination campaigns all the way to booster shots, provision of adequate number of hospital beds, medication, systems to detect the first clusters of outbreak and easy access to medical treatment when needed.

The measure we must avoid at all cost are lockdowns.

Scientists globally are in agreement that viruses evolve over time and undergo changes as they spread and replicate. This is what the world has been expecting and not just a complete disappearance one day of Covid-19.

With Delta, we have learnt that lockdowns have not helped the eradication of the virus nor bring the cases down but it has created a huge economic crater.

We have to learn to live with the virus and its mutations, by taking preventative and accessibility to treatment measures while going forward with our lives.

Written By - TBB.