COVID Monthly Report - July
Period : August 2020 – July 2021
Date : 14 th Aug 2021
Researcher : Esther Low
Are we at the end of a long pandemic?
Malaysia COVID-19 cases surpasses 1 million total cases and recorded total deaths of 9,024
since the start of the pandemic. With vaccination rates averaging at 460,000 doses a day,
the country is set to achieve herd immunity by early September 2021. However, there are
three factors that may put us back to square one in beating this pandemic, 1) The goal of
achieving 80% herd immunity leaves out roughly 9.6 million unvaccinated Malaysians -
including children below 18 and adults who cannot be vaccinated due to existing health
issues-, 2) The emergence of new variants globally and within the country especially the
Delta and Lambda variants, and 3) the efficacy of the vaccines against these variants.
Global total new COVID cases by month
Just as the world begin to see the light to the end of this long pandemic, the spread of the
Delta variant would likely set back the goal of returning to normal. Globally new COVID-19
cases have surpassed 200 million cases with most of Asia and even Europe and US seeing a spike in cases due to the Delta variant. In July number of new cases has increased from
11.47 million in June to 15.67 million cases. First detected in India, the Delta variant is
twice more contagious than the normal variant and is strong enough to infect those who
are fully vaccinated.
Number of total new COVID cases by month for Malaysia
In July, Malaysia recorded an all-time high of 361,293 new COVID cases, the highest ever
number of cases with an average of 11,655 cases daily. This is the third month in a row that
Malaysia has recorded an all-time high in cases, to date since the start of the pandemic,
Malaysia has now recorded 1.1 million COVID cases. As of 1 st June 2021, the Malaysian
government has declared an FMCO or total lockdown which has since been extended
Total new COVID deaths by month for Malaysia
Following in tandem to the increase in COVID cases, the past three months marked a
sorrowful milestone as well for Malaysia as the number of COVID deaths hit a record high
of 3,854. This has brought the cumulative number of COVID deaths in Malaysia to 9,024.
Total vaccines administered by month globally
As of July, a total of 4.609 billion shots were administered globally. Countries and regions
that were quick in vaccinating its population enjoyed a brief summer respite where travel
bans, dining in at restaurants and bars were lifted for those fully vaccinated. However,
these regions namely the UK, US, Australia and Europe have started to tighten restrictions
and clamp down again amid fears over the rapid spread of Delta variant. The rise in cases
despite the rapid vaccination of its population in these countries shows us that COVID is
here to stay for a long time.
Total vaccines administered in July for Malaysia
Vaccination rollout in Malaysia hit record high with 12.6 million doses administered in the
month of July. Malaysia has picked up the pace on its vaccination plans by opening more
vaccination centers and allowing walk in vaccinations. Malaysia has achieved an average of
460k shots per day in July. Although the Malaysian government has announced Pfizer
vaccinations for those above 12 years old, the government has since reconsidered the
rollout due to concerning reports of high number of heart inflammation cases in that age
group who received Pfizer jabs in other countries.
Total number of people fully vaccinated for Malaysia
As of 31 st July the total number of people fully vaccinated in Malaysia is 6.8 million. With
more new PPVs as well as walk in vaccinations, the number of people fully vaccinated
would likely be three to four times higher by end of Aug 2021.
Malaysia vaccination rollout projection
Should Malaysia continue to administer an average of 460,000 - 500,000 shots per day, the
country would be able to achieve immunization of 80% of its population fully vaccinated
(26 million people) by Sep or Oct 2021. Herd immunity excluding those below 18 years old
can be achieved earlier as is projected to be end August or early September.
Although this may be welcoming news for a COVID weary Malaysia, it is a plausible
outcome that Malaysia will still see a high number of daily cases and deaths due to three
reasons which is the 1) population of unvaccinated Malaysians; 2) the possible rise and
spread of new variants; 3) The efficiency of the vaccines.
1) Population of unvaccinated Malaysians
Malaysia’s goal to achieve herd immunity covers 80% of the total population (32 million)
however the vaccinations are restricted to healthy adults above the age of 18 years old and
does not include those below 18 as well as those who are unable to be vaccinated due to
This would effectively leave about 9.6 million unvaccinated adults and children. This
unvaccinated population will be susceptible to further risks of contracting COVID-19
especially with the rise of new variants that may be deadlier and more contagious than the
2) Possible rise and spread of new variants
Delta variant, first detected in India ravaged the country and led to a collapse in their
healthcare system as well as thousands of people dead, it is by far the most deadly and
contagious variant of COVID-19 now. The variant is rapidly becoming dominant across the
Countries such as US, UK and most of Europe who were able to rollout vaccination plans at
a much quicker pace are now experiencing a growing surge in cases due to the spread of
the Delta variant. As of 30 th July, USA reported the highest number of new infections at
96,000 despite half of its population already fully vaccinated.
Closer to home, the variant is now taking a hold in many developing worlds where
vaccination rates are lower, and healthcare/treatment is scarce or overwhelmed, posing a
higher risk of infections and possible new variations. In Indonesia, where just 6% (as of 16 th
July) of the population is fully vaccinated, almost 99% of the cases detected are the Delta
There is also concern on the emergence of a new variant called the Lambda variant, first
identified in Peru and now spreading in South America, it is highly infectious and more
resistant to vaccines. WHO has labeled the Lambda variant as “variant of interest” rather
than a “variant of concern” because it is not clear yet whether the Lambda variant is
deadlier than the Delta variant.
3) Efficacy of vaccines
Since the start of the pandemic, countries and pharmaceutical companies have begun the
race to develop the first COVID-19 vaccine. Since the approval of Pfizer-BioNTech,
AstraZeneca, Moderna and Sinovac for mass inoculation globally, there have been talks
about how effective the vaccines are against the new variations of COVID-19. Studies
conducted seems to conclude a wide range of effectiveness.
Early figures from real-world studies in UK revealed that two doses of Pfizer vaccines were
88% effective in preventing symptomatic infection with the Delta variant. However, the
numbers were revised down to 79% by researchers in Scotland. In Canada, researchers
claim the Pfizer vaccine was 87% effective in preventing infection of the Delta variant.
Meanwhile Israel reported the vaccine was only 64% effective in preventing symptomatic
infection of Delta variant.
Researchers in England, Scotland and Canada claimed that AstraZeneca was at least 60%
effective against the Delta variant upon completing two shots, but there is a lack of studies
conducted in other countries to back this claim.
Meanwhile, early WHO studies showed that the Sinovac vaccine was 51% effective in
preventing symptomatic infections while Chile shows a 65.9% efficacy rate and is 87.5%
effective in preventing hospitalizations and 86.3% effective in preventing death. However,
little is known of its efficacy against the Delta variant.
Indonesia who has been struggling with the Delta variant in March and highly reliant on
Sinovac to vaccinate its population has recently claimed that the shot effectiveness fell in
April-June. Studies found that the shots prevented 79% of deaths and 53% of
hospitalization in April to June compared to 95% and 74% respectively in January to
Meanwhile the US FDA has since authorized a third dose of COVID-19 vaccines for people
with compromised immune systems as a means of prevention against the Delta variant.
Studies have also begun in Singapore and England investigating the effectiveness of cocktail
vaccines (combination of different vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna or AstraZeneca and
Pfizer) to boost immunity against the COVID-19 disease.
The emergence of new variants and the questionable efficacy of current vaccines against
the new variants. It is a plausible outcome that Malaysia would not be able to return to
normal upon achieving its target of 80% herd immunity. The two main concerns are the
population of unvaccinated Malaysians and the spread of Delta variant.
Should the vaccines be effective in preventing hospitalization and deaths among the fully
vaccinated it could help in ease the strain on the healthcare system and thus reduce
mortality rates in those who are not vaccinated but contracted the disease. We foresee that
the cases would remain high as Malaysia continues to achieve its 80% herd immunity by
The emergence of new variants such as the Lambda, Epsilon and so on is also a concern to
Malaysia’s plans in beating this pandemic. A more contagious variant with a higher
immunity against vaccines would bring Malaysia and the world back to square one.