Weekly Highlights

Malaysia will not be able to achieve herd immunity at this rate

I would like to convey my condolences to the victims and their families of those involved in the Kelana Jaya LRT accident last night.  

Despite MCO 3.0 and the reduction of LRT flow to 50%, there was still a heavy flow of commuters who are subject not only to the transmission of increasingly virulent new variants of COVID-19 virus, due to both poorly enforced and complied physical distancing.  

I would like to express my deepest concerns over Prime Minster Muhyiddin Yassin’s efficiency in managing the COVID-19 pandemic and socioeconomic crises.” – Dr. Boo Cheng Hau

So far Malaysia has had a total 512,091 confirmed cases or an average of 1623 confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population and the highest disease prevalence rate among all South East Asian countries, followed by Philippines 1096, Singapore 1085, Indonesia 658, East Timor 450, Myanmar 265, Thailand 190, Cambodia 156, Brunei 54, Laos 25, and Vietnam with the lowest prevalence rate of 6 confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 population (Based on the data provided by CNN and Johns Hopkins University of Medicine).  

Malaysia also has the second highest COVID-19 deaths of 7 per 100,000 population in South East Asia, following Indonesia’s and Philippines’ 18 COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 population (Based on the data provided by CNN and Johns Hopkins University of Medicine). 

It is high time to reinforce a nationwide EMCO for 21 days to contain the spread of COVID-19 virus new variants of concerns, namely the South African and Indian strains which are proven to be spreading in the country.

They have a longer incubation period of 21 days and a much higher transmissibility. The Prime Minster and the National Security Council have to heed Ministry of Health’s advice in the midst of a public health crisis which, in fact, has hindered the socioeconomic growth that is directly related the effectiveness of the pandemic management. 

MITI, MOF and MOTAC have to do studies that relate economic growth to the public health crisis by regaining both the consumers’ and investors’ confidence in the economy before objecting to a nationwide EMCO, even for a short period of time to contain the rising pandemic. A successful strategy containing the spread of the virus would promote a faster economic recovery. This includes an urgent short-term nationwide EMCO coupled with extensive testing and an efficient mass vaccine rollout. 

The Prime Minister in a television interview two days ago claimed that the government is targeting 150,000 people to be vaccinated daily and hopes to achieve “herd immunity” by the end of the year. It has to be pointed out that it is impossible to get 80% of the population fully vaccinated and achieve ‘herd immunity’ by the year end with 150,000 doses of vaccine administered daily.  

To get 80% of the population fully vaccinated by the year end, the government needs to target 230,000 doses of vaccines given daily because almost all COVID vaccines need two doses to get a vaccinee fully protected. With the targeted 150,000 thousand doses of vaccine being administered daily, Malaysia is only able to achieve herd immunity with 80% of the population fully vaccinated towards the end of April 2022. 

According to Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM), University of Pennsylvania, effective social distancing policies and vaccination rate determine the economic recovery and employment rate. 

Based on the current skyrocketing COVID-19 transmission rate and poor public compliance with the physical distancing, Malaysia needs a nationwide EMCO for 21 days while carrying out extensive testing to effectively contain the spread of the virus and carrying much more extensive vaccination campaign.  

 It is also to aim to achieve herd immunity by the end of this coming September in order to prevent the emergence of more virulent and transmissible new variants before the arrival of colder months in the Northern Hemisphere. The new variants may render the present vaccines less effective.  

For achieving herd immunity by the end of coming September, Malaysia needs to more than double the current effort than the currently targeted daily 150,000 doses when there is only 2.9% of the total population are fully vaccinated.   

Malaysia needs to administer 404,000 doses of vaccine daily to achieve an 80% total full vaccination rate, or 352,000 doses a day for a 70% total vaccination rate, by the end of this coming September.  

The Prime Minister and NSC should consult both public health experts and health economists in order to execute a more workable and competent plan to contain the pandemic and revive the economy in the country in the midst of this grave pandemic. 

Dr. Boo Cheng Hau

DAP Johor State Committee Member

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