Covid-19: Focus is on ensuring death, hospitalisation rates drop, says KJ

PETALING JAYA: As more people get vaccinated, the country should be prepared to change the way it reacts to the high daily number of Covid-19 cases, says Khairy Jamaluddin (pic).

The Science, Innovation and Technology Minister said instead, the focus should be on reducing hospitalisation and death rates.

He said data showed that death and hospitalisation rates start to reduce the moment vaccination rates reach between 30% and 40%.

“That’s when we can start hoping, after seeing empirical, real-world data, (for) death rates to go down, ” he said when speaking at the National Pharmacists Convention (NPC) 2021 as a panel speaker Friday (July 9).

Khairy, who is also coordinating minister of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, said vaccination is key to the country's recovery plan and Malaysia is expected to reach at least a 30% vaccination rate by the end of August.

He said by then, the focus should no longer be about suppressing numbers but mitigating the situation to make sure death and hospitalisation rates are kept low so as to not burden the healthcare system.

“The new way of looking at Covid-19 after we have reached a certain threshold of vaccination is not in the case numbers.

“The case numbers may be high (but) it’s not about suppression anymore but mitigation to ensure people don’t die from Covid-19, ” he said.

Khairy added that the vaccine may not be able to suppress transmission of the disease, especially with more transmissible variants like the Delta variant, but it has proven to be effective in reducing hospitalisation and death rates.

He cited the example of the United Kingdom which has instead switched its focus to mitigating the situation despite experiencing a high number of daily cases after recently easing Covid-19 prevention measures.

“The UK right now is facing more than 30,000 cases a day because of the Delta variant and because they have started to open up. You can see that stadiums are full for the Euro 2021 football competition and they are not wearing masks.

“The numbers will go up but the United Kingdom has started looking at hospitalisation and also death rates, ” he said.

Based on data from the John Hopkins University Centre For Systems Science and Engineering, Covid-19 death rates have sharply dipped since Jan 27 this year where it recorded 1,725 deaths.

On July 8, the United Kingdom recorded 35 deaths.

Khairy also said 10% of the total population of Malaysia has been fully vaccinated, checking off one of the conditions to move from Phase One of the National Recovery Plan to the next.

He said the 10.4 million doses have been given so far in the immunisation programme with 30% of Malaysian adults receiving one dose of the vaccine while another 13.6% have gotten two doses.

He also said under the programme, more than 300,000 doses daily had been administered from July 5 with numbers hitting 376,909 on July 8 alone.

Malaysia recorded 9,180 new Covid-19 cases with 77 deaths and 5, 713 recoveries on Friday.

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