Thai health officials accepted new guidelines defining the criteria for labeling the current health situation from being a Covid pandemic to being a Covid endemic on Friday.
Official numbers show that the country already matches the three criteria, but Ministry of Public Health spokesperson Rungrueng Kitphati said it would be between 6 months and a year before the government could decide to classify COVID-19 as a chronic condition, similar to the flu or measles.
He stated that statistics from all of Thailand’s provinces must be examined, and that officials must ensure that the figures continue at present levels or improve before it can be deemed a Covid endemic.
The guidelines developed by the ministry’s National Communicable Disease Committee include three criteria: fewer than 10,000 new cases per day, a fatality rate of no more than 0.1 percent of those admitted to the hospital with an infection, and more than 80 percent of at-risk people having received at least two vaccinations.
Currently, daily new case in Thailand is ranging between 7,000 and 9,000, and the death rate, which was more than 3% at the start of the pandemic, has dropped to 0.1 percent, with more than 80 percent of at-risk persons completely vaccinated, according to Rungrueng.
Thailand has joined other nations in preparing for the virus to become endemic, however the World Health Organization has stated that it is too early to contemplate any urgent adjustment.
The organization does not have precisely defined criteria for labeling COVID-19 an endemic disease. However, health experts have previously stated that an endemic will occur when the virus becomes more predictable and there are no prolonged outbreaks.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious diseases expert in the United States, stated last week at a World Economic Forum panel that the situation would not be called a Covid endemic until it reached “a level that it doesn’t disrupt society.”
Thailand recorded 8,078 new cases and 22 fatalities on Friday, bringing the total number of verified cases and deaths to 2.4 million since the pandemic began in 2020.
It has delivered 113.6 million doses of the vaccine to date, and around 48.3 million individuals, or 70 percent of the population, have been completely immunized. Right now, Thailand is rolling out 4th booster shots to its citizens residing in the country’s tourists destinations.
Declaring a Covid endemic would be possible thanks to people’s cooperation
Thailand’s Public Health Ministry intends to change the status of the current health situation from Covid pandemic to Covid endemic this year. According to a report, Dr. Kiattiphum Wongrajit believes this is possible because people are collaborating with the vaccination distribution. While the Omicron form is extremely infectious and swiftly spreading throughout the country, the symptoms are milder and the fatality rate is lower.
“The disease naturally reduces its severity on its own and everyone in Thailand is cooperating with the vaccination drive. Consequently, the disease can do no harm. Besides, there are effective operations for treatment and the slowdown of outbreaks. These will make it possible for the disease to become endemic.”
According to Kiattiphum, the ministry’s objective this year is to slow the spread of illnesses since quickly spreading infections would put too much strain on the healthcare system and may result in new mutations. He feels that now that the ministry has adequate immunizations, the strategy can be implemented and life can return to some form of normalcy.
“When the disease becomes endemic, business and activities can quickly be restored.”
According to a report, Kiattiphum believes that those with just moderate symptoms might self-isolate at home, relieving demand on hospital beds. The ministry will provide them with medication and monitoring devices, and anyone who develops serious symptoms will be sent to a hospital.
According to Kiattiphum, the people must now collaborate in getting vaccinated and utilizing antigen test kits if they believe they are at danger. Meanwhile, organizations must adopt Covid-free workplaces and frequently test their employees with ATKs. He claims that if everyone implements these steps, the government would be able to reach its goal of making Covid endemic.
Too soon to declare a Covid endemic
Dr. Yong Poovorawan, a renowned virologist, has refuted predictions that Covid-19 will become endemic in Thailand and throughout the world.
Yong commented on his Facebook page that the terms Covid-19 and endemic were commonly used interchangeably.
He did, however, point out that “endemic” refers to a disease that is limited to a certain geographic location, such as Yellow Fever in Africa or MERS in the Middle East, but “pandemic” refers to a worldwide outbreak.
He said that because Covid-19 has gone all over the globe and will not be restricted to a certain place, it has little potential of becoming endemic.
Other infectious diseases that have been eradicated by vaccination, such as measles and diphtheria, are not considered endemic, he noted.
Instead, vaccination and natural immunity would gradually regulate Covid-19, lowering the death rate. At this point, it would be a chronic respiratory condition, similar to seasonal flu.
According to Yong, Thailand and other nations will subsequently be free to abolish all limitations used to curb the spread of Covid-19.
We are heading towards a Covid endemic
On Sunday, a top epidemiologist at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi stated that SARS-CoV-2, also known as COVID-19, is approaching the endemic stage.
Endemic is a stage in which instances are restricted to a certain geographical place and are always present in low numbers in that area.
“Looking at the COVID-19 vaccination status and the natural infection, we can say that very soon, the majority of us will be getting an infection. And then this virus will convert into the endemic virus,” Dr Sanjay Rai told reporters.
According to the AIIMS senior epidemiologist, individuals who recovered from COVID are the best-protected people right now, based on scientific facts, followed by vaccinated people.
“COVID-19 is RNA virus and the virus has mutated thousands of times. Although, the variant of concern are only five like alpha, beta, gamma delta and currently, Omicron which is a very fast transmitting disease. So very fast transmission is taking place all over the world,” the health expert said.
“The overall severity is less so the majority of us will get this infection. Based on the current scientific evidence, we can see those who recovered from the COVID they are the best-protected person as of now, then the second-best protective person is those who had the vaccination,” he added.