Search
  • jeroen200

COVID Monthly Report - July

Period : August 2020 – July 2021

Date : 14 th Aug 2021

Researcher : Esther Low


Summary

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

indefinitely.



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

health reasons.


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

original variant.


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

world.


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

variant.


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

March.


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.


Conclusion

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

Sep/Oct 21.


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.























6 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All