The COVID-19 Network Investigations Group has found the B.1.351 COVID-19 variant, commonly known as the South African strain, in samples which the Public Health Ministry collected from people in an infection cluster in Tak Bai district on May 13th.
The group said the strain contains spike mutations that may impact human immune response to the virus and reduce the effectiveness of vaccines. However, this does not mean that vaccines are ineffective in preventing infections.
Thailand detected the South African variant on Feb 15th in a man who had travelled from Tanzania and who was placed into mandatory quarantine upon arrival.
Dr. Thiravat Hemachudha, head of the Center for Emerging Disease Health Sciences, at the Faculty of Medicine at Chulalongkorn University, said finding the South African strain outside quarantine centers implies that the strain is spreading in Thailand.