A STRONG warning was issued by a senior Thai doctor that the next hundred days are dangerous with the number of infections and deaths caused by the Delta Covid-19 variant continuing to rise regardless of how stringent the lockdown may be, Amarin TV said today (August 12).
Dr. Manoon Leechawengwong, Vichaiyut Hospital’s head of ICU specialising in respiratory diseases, said in a Facebook post that lockdown measures cannot stop infection at home, with the home being the key place where this infection spreads.
For this reason the lockdown should be eased before the economy is further damaged.
He added that over the next hundred days the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Thailand could increase to 35 million people, or half of the country’s population, with an additional 30,000 people likely to die.
So far 16 million people here have been vaccinated with the first dose of one of the vaccines, but 40-45 million have not.
Dr. Manoon called for vaccinating 500,000 people a day with the first jab and putting off second jabs till more vaccines are available.
Information from AstraZeneca Corporate Communications Department states that just one dose of its vaccine is highly effective in reducing hospital admissions and death. Data from Canada shows that one dose of the vaccine prevented 87% of deaths caused by the Delta strain and 90% by the Alpha variant.
The major problem Thailand is facing right now is a severe shortage of vaccines, Dr. Manoon said, adding that he wrote a Facebook post on July 2 urging the government to negotiate with AstraZeneca to deliver pre-ordered vaccine doses sooner.
He agreed with Dr. Prasert Euawarakul, of Siriraj Hospital Mahidol University’s Faculty of Medicine, that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha should use his powers under the Vaccine Security Act to temporarily halt the export of AstraZeneca vaccine produced at Siam Bioscience Co., Ltd. to other countries.
Currently, Siam Bioscience has a production capacity of approximately 10-15 million doses of this vaccine per month.
An export ban will lead to Thailand having 30-45 million doses of the vaccine over the next three months and will help reduce hospitalisation and deaths by more than 80%, he said, while also pointing out that vaccination will not reduce the number of infections.
An export ban would have a temporary impact on other regional countries as availability of AstraZeneca would be reduced in the short term, but Dr. Manoon believes that these other countries would do the same if they faced the severe Delta variant Covid crisis Thailand is currently doing so.
Top: A photo of Dr. Manoon is inset over a background of the coronavirus representative image. Thai headline says, “100 dangerous days.” Photo: Amarin TV