Thailand orders 200,000 courses of a breakthrough drug to treat COVID-19 developed by scientists at US pharma giant Merck. The new treatment, taken in pill form over 5 days, involves 40 doses which help neutralise the genetic code of the virus in the body. 

Thailand has announced an advance order for 200,000 courses of a revolutionary new drug that can treat the COVID-19 virus as the country’s top virologist, Dr Yong Poovorawan, has warned that the goal now to deal with the virus is to live with it eventually as an endemic disease and urged all people living in Thailand to get vaccinated to boost their immunity as herd immunity from the disease is not possible.

Thailand’s top virologist Dr Yong Poovorawan has said that herd immunity will not be possible with COVID-19 and that ultimately the goal will be to live with the virus as an endemic disease. He has called on everyone to avail of the opportunity to get vaccinated to boost their immunity and to protect against the more severe symptoms of the disease which he predicts will be with us forever albeit as an endemic virus.

Thailand’s leading virologist has come out to encourage all people living in Thailand who have not yet been vaccinated, to do so in order to boost their immunity against the COVID-19 virus. He has concluded that herd immunity against it is not attainable.

Dr Yong Poovorawan of the Centre of Excellence in Clinical Virology at Chulalongkorn University pointed to Singapore with a vaccination rate of 80% and the current need for booster vaccines in Israel, a country that has been a pioneer in mass vaccination of its population, as enough evidence to prove the point.

Herd immunity is not possible with the present virus, we must learn to live with it as an endemic disease

He explained that while vaccines in the case of some diseases such as measles help protect the unvaccinated against infection with a ‘herd immunity effect’, this was not the case with the present virus.

The clear statement from Dr Yong comes after a report from the UK in recent weeks suggested that some leading scientists believed that herd immunity was in play and linked with a reduction in infections recorded in late September.

Virus endgame for Thailand in sight as herd immunity is credited for falling UK infection rates

The leading Thai virologist believes that living with COVID-19 as an endemic disease must now be the goal.

For those already infected or vaccinated, the chances for more severe symptoms are reduced substantially

He explained that once a person has been infected previously from the disease or vaccinated, then the chance of developing severe symptoms from it are significantly reduced.

In this way, he forecast that COVID-19 will eventually morph into a normal respiratory illness that becomes endemic within the population meaning that it is both predictable and manageable.

‘Forget about herd immunity because it will not work with COVID-19,’ said Dr Yong. ‘We will have to live with the virus the way we have been living with other viruses and this disease can happen in young children, but with mild symptoms. We can never get rid of it.’

Thailand orders 200,000 doses of a breakthrough treatment for COVID-19 from an American firm

It comes as Thailand’s Department of Medical Sciences has announced an advance order for 200,000 doses of a revolutionary new treatment for COVID-19 manufactured by US pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co.

The treatment named Molnupiravir has caused quite a stir worldwide and works by introducing errors into COVID-19’s genetic code within the body.

Reports from the United States suggest that approval from the American Food and Drug Administration is imminent and that the company plans to produce 10 million doses of the new drug by the end of this year.

Molnupiravir is an oral medication delivered in pills.

New drug, a five day treatment, will arrive in Thailand in November and will be made available once approved by the Thai Food and Drug Administration

This week, Mr Somsak Akksilp of the Department of Medical Sciences confirmed that the drug should be available in Thailand by November but would only be used on patients once it is approved by both the US and Thai Food and Drug Administration agencies.

Other countries interested in the breakthrough drug include Australia, Malaysia, South Korea and Taiwan with the Philippines reported to have engaged Merck to run a domestic trial of the drug to secure a volume discount on the treatment.

This week, the Director-general of the Department of Disease Control at the Ministry of Public Health, Dr Opas Karnkawinpong said although no drug is proven to be completely effective against any disease, it is hoped that the administration of this new treatment in the early stages of COVID-19 will turn out to be effective.

Mr Somsak declined to give information on the cost of the drug to Thailand but confirmed reports from the United States suggest that the US government is paying Merck & Co $700 for every 5-day course of the treatment which involves administering 40 doses of the drug or pills. 

Join the Thai News forum, follow Thai Examiner on Facebook here
Receive all our stories as they come out on Telegram here
Follow Thai Examiner here

Further reading:

Virus endgame for Thailand in sight as herd immunity is credited for falling UK infection rates

Western nations and Japan come to Thailand’s assistance as the COVID-19 emergency escalates

Thailand to halt Sinovac use after October as Foreign Minister cites damage to Thai Chinese ties

Anutin promises 10 million doses per month from August as virus wave still rises across Thailand

US Senate body including a Thai Senator accuses authorities of using violence against protesters

Crisis over AstraZeneca vaccine doses threatens to undermine the government as virus surge grows

Vaccine cocktail approved on Monday placed under review causing provincial suspensions of rollout

MP criticises stirred up health official, calls on him to fight the virus instead of being emotional

4th wave threatens to collapse the public health system as PM orders trainee doctors to Bangkok

Chaos and confusion as vaccination drive is left in disarray with no new doses supplied this week to facilities

Taiwan accuses Thailand of prioritising its own access to the AstraZeneca vaccine amid delays

Anutin signs up Pfizer for 20 million doses but warns that Covid-19 may be with us for some time into the future

Bottlenecks as 28 die after receiving a vaccine amid surging demand with 5% already vaccinated nationwide

Jab site for expats as country’s second vaccination phase begins driven by locally produced AstraZeneca doses

Door open to expats for vaccine appointments, they simply have to push says top official

Thai Princess steps into the vaccination drive as there is positive news from officials in Phuket

Expats to get vaccine app as Buriram threatens jail for anyone not complying with jab rollout mission

Thai King speaks candidly and insightfully on the danger posed by depression to his young audience

Government making it easier for expats to access vaccine rollout including private sector option

‘No one is safe until everyone is safe.’ Foreigners and expats on vaccine to do list says top official at ministry

Thai government urged to buy more vaccine doses at any cost as the only way out of a growing crisis

Thailand may face a ‘real crisis’ as 3rd virus wave fails to slow amid record deaths says top doctor

Expats over 60 and with underlying conditions can register for free Covid vaccinations in June & July

PM Prayut hands power back to the CCSA to find 100 million vaccine doses to defeat Covid-19

Thailand scrambles to procure more vaccines as infections and deaths from Covid-19 jump sharply

Executive with Thai Air Asia shareholder firm warns that the virus downturn has wreaked havoc

Officials turn to hotels for more scarce hospital beds but say the 3rd wave can be defeated in May

Still time to avoid lockdown says Health Minister as 3rd virus wave dwarfs all infections to date

Fears that a 3rd wave of Covid-19 may have begun in Thailand with top doctors raising the alarm

Centre for Covid-19 announces ‘bubble and seal’ measures after October 1st with quarantine lifted

PM leads the way as Thailand aims to return to normal by pushing forward its vaccine drive using AstraZeneca

Top docs say vaccine jabs are safe after Thai PM’s jab is cancelled for the second time in two weeks

Vaccination campaign begins in early morning jab event but hopes for more foreign tourists set back

Economy to rebound as the year progresses driven by exports and a return of mass foreign tourism

Door closing on quick foreign tourism return as economic recovery is delayed to the end of 2022

Phuket’s plan to self vaccinate on hold as Interior Ministry orders private sector out of vaccine deals

Top Thai official says vaccine passports are legally a matter for the WHO under international law

Top virologist Dr Yong defends the use of the Sinovac vaccine to protect frontline medical staff at high risk

Refloat of foreign tourism in the 2nd half of 2021 with vaccines pushed by minister and industry for the sector