Thailand rejects UK media dubbing COVID-19 strain as Thai variant

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Director General of the Department of Disease Control Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong said that the variant should not be tied to Thailand as it was first seen in a foreign national and that the news story was based on speculation.

Adviser to the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) Dr. Udom Kachintorn made known following a meeting with Department of Medical Science Director General Dr. Supakij Sirilak, that the virus strain attributed to Thailand has yet to be seen among patients in the country and that no samples have been submitted for confirmation, noting recognition of a new strain requires confirmation by more than one laboratory.



He gave his view that the news story was based on speculation and said UK officials should have formally notified Thailand so that tests could be carried out before the publication.

The adviser continued by saying the situation in Thailand is not conducive to the virus’ mutation as infection is only at an average 60 people per 100,000 while mutation commonly occurs when the rate exceeds 75. He added over 95 percent of infections in Thailand since April have been of the variant originating in the UK.

Director General of the Department of Disease Control Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong elaborated that the first case of C.36.3 was in a co-pilot of Egyptian nationality who entered quarantine on January 26 this year, staying at Novotel Samutprakan before returning to Egypt on February 16. No further cases of the strain were seen after the departure. He remarked the variant should not be tied to Thailand as it was first seen in a foreign national and said further details would be sought.


Meanwhile, the Prime Minister stated COVID-19 could come in many strains but brushed off worry as vaccination continues to be effective.

Health authorities in England have reported cases of a new COVID-19 variant that was first detected in Thailand among people who had arrived from Egypt. Public Health England (PHE) in a report updated on Thursday said there had been 109 cases of the new variant, coded C.36.3, found in England.

PHE did not give it a name but it was quickly dubbed the ‘Thai variant’ by the UK mass media, a description Thai authorities immediately rejected as wrong. However, the PHE said there is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease or renders the vaccines currently deployed any less effective.



Meanwhile, Supakit Sirilak, director-general of the Department of Medical Sciences, said the agency was looking into the report and opposed the use of the description ‘Thai variant’.

A preliminary check had found the new strain was brought into Thailand by travelers from Egypt who were quarantined after arrival.

Dr Supakit said that in principle, the origin was in Egypt. So it could not be called the Thai variant. It should be called the Egypt variant. (NNT)