What should we do about the next Covid-19 wave?

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THE previous Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 wave came in February and had gone by May.

The caseloads peaked at 32,800 on March 11. The lowest daily case number was 922 on May 3, while daily cases were roughly 2,000 until June 21.

Since then, daily cases hovered around the 3,000 mark until Friday, when 4,020 cases were reported. The caseload has increased almost 30% in the past week.

The World Health Organization reported that by the end of June, new weekly cases were up by 32% in Southeast Asia, 33% in Europe and 47% in the region comprising the Middle East, Central Asia, North Africa and the Horn of Africa.

As of June 19, Omicron BA.5 accounted for 43% of Omicron cases worldwide, while Omicron BA.4 accounted for 12%.

Both the Minister of Health and director-general of health warned us to be prepared for a new wave from Omicron BA.5, which has invaded our country.

According to the researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, BA.5 is able to escape the antibody responses among people previously infected, and those who have been fully vaccinated and boosted.

Reinfections may be inevitable until we have new vaccines that could prevent transmission effectively. 

However, the current Covid-19 vaccination is still expected to provide substantial protection against severe disease.


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In addition, BA.4 and BA.5 do not seem to cause more severe symptoms compared to BA.1 and BA.2.

Moreover, vaccine manufacturers are working on updated vaccines that might elicit a stronger immune response against the new variants.

Hopefully, in the near future, there will be new vaccine to prevent the transmission of Omicron variants. 

So, what should the public do now? Those eligible for vaccination, especially children ages 5-11 years old, should get vaccinated.

Those who have not taken their booster shots (third dose) should get it as soon as possible.

The elderly and high-risk groups should go for their second booster shot (fourth dose).

Vaccination may not be effective in the prevention of transmission, but it is effective in preventing severe symptoms, hospitalisation and even death, especially among the elderly and high-risk groups. 

The public health measures – such as wearing masks indoors, maintaining hand hygiene, avoiding crowded and poorly ventilated areas, and self-testing before joining family or groups – should be practised to reduce or stop the transmission of this highly infectious BA.5 variant. 

We should not be under the impression that it is fine to get infected if the disease is mild.

We must not forget that even mild Covid-19 patients may suffer post-Covid effects, or Long Covid.

In addition, there is new evidence from the US showing that, compared with people just one Covid-19 infection, those with two or more documented infections had more than twice the risk of dying and three times the risk of being hospitalised within six months of their previous infection.

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