- The figures provided by the MOH study find the Covid-19 death rates to be 0.01% in Malaysia for fully vaccinated people when it is more likely at least 6.6 times greater than stated.
- The death rate of Covid-19 for a fully vaccinated person cannot be determined against the total vaccination population as it assumes that every vaccinated person did not get Covid-19 because of their vaccination when in reality there are many factors in play, specifically, SOPs, face masks, no close contact, MCOs, etc.
Recently, the Ministry of Health touted the success of vaccines, or its success rates, for AstraZeneca, Pfizer BioNTech, and Sinovac after completing a study on its effectiveness in reducing deaths and severe infections. But something’s amiss with the data.
While it is undeniable that the vaccines had drastically reduced hospitalizations and deaths by Covid-19, as well as, significantly reduced the transmission of Covid-19 across Malaysia, and countries across the world, it would seem that the effectiveness of the vaccine is seemingly overstated.
The Health Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin said, “the most important finding of the study (by MOH) is that all three vaccines (under the National Immunization Program) are highly effective. In terms of ICU admissions, for those who have completed their vaccine dosage whether it is Pfizer BioNTech, AstraZeneca or Sinovac, the rate is at 0.006%”. He added, “the death rate is at 0.01%”.
The study by the MOH found that 1,445 fully vaccinated people had passed away out of 14 million vaccinated people (at the time of the study), hence the death rate of 0.01%. However, here is where the numbers are overstating the effect of such vaccines. The death rate of Covid-19 for a fully vaccinated person cannot be determined against the total vaccination population as it assumes that every vaccinated person (i.e. 14,000,000) did not get Covid-19 because of their vaccination when in reality there are many factors in play, specifically, SOPs, face masks, no close contact, MCOs, etc.
Therefore, this notion of vaccine effectiveness must be certainly overstated; according to COVIDNOW, as of September 25th, 2021, there are 2,185,131 million Covid-19 cases in Malaysia, the bulk of which coming over the last couple of months. Wouldn’t the number of deaths relative to the number of cases be a stronger indicator of vaccine effectiveness as opposed to the total number of vaccination?
Therefore, if the fair assessment of the effectiveness of any vaccines should be against the number of total infected people, the death rate would be 0.066%. This number is 6.6 times greater than the stated percentage, albeit, still signaling the effectiveness of the vaccines.
The study further found that “of the 1,445 deaths, 1,108 have been fully vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine. However, the 1,108 deaths are out of 7.2 million Sinovac recipients in the country – a rate of 0.015%”. This figure must be critically evaluated.
The success rate of the Sinovac vaccine can only be truly defined if we take the number of deaths of fully vaccinated people with Sinovac to the number of fully vaccinated people with Sinovac who contracted Covid-19 after their full vaccination, not the total number of vaccinees with Sinovac (a number not currently publicly available). In doing so, we would only then be able to clearly tell the effectiveness of such vaccines. If the figure is understated by the same 6.6 times, then we would be looking at a Covid-19 death rate of fully vaccinated people with Sinovac is 0.09%.
Nonetheless, one thing remains clear, the vaccines are without a doubt effective.
YB Khairy Jamaluddin added that Health Ministry will conduct a deeper analysis on findings to identify if there is a need to give booster shots to Sinovac recipients.
“We need to do a deeper analysis on these involving Sinovac recipients. Are they mainly due to the vaccine type or other reasons such as patient history? Or were they infected by Covid-19 variants of concern?
“If it is due to the vaccine, we will take this into consideration in giving out booster shots. We will also see if the booster shot needs to be a different brand,” said the Health Minister.
So How Do These Rates Match Up To Other Pandemics In History
In the history of pandemics, the aptest comparison for Covid-19 would be the Spanish Flu of 1918. Both pandemics resulted in health and economic catastrophes with social distancing mandates, regulations for face masks, and business and school closures. The stark difference is that the Spanish Flu was caused by Influenza and Covid-19 by Coronavirus.
Many historians who have studied the Spanish Flu conservatively estimate the total death count to be 675,000 based on ‘limited, inconsistent, and even speculative reports’. Therefore, the death rate of the influenza pandemic relative to the estimated 105 million population in the United States in 1918 is 0.64% of the total population. According to the data provided by the MOH, the same calculation will represent a death rate of 0.01% of the coronavirus pandemic in Malaysia. Should we use the death rate relative to infected patients, the death rate will be 0.06%. In comparison, the Spanish Flu was at least 10.6 times more deadly than Covid-19 in Malaysia for fully vaccinated persons.
And once again, vaccines prove to be effective against the coronavirus pandemic. With almost 83.1% of the adult population and 0.9% of the adolescent population already fully vaccinated, the transparency of vaccine effectiveness by the Ministry of Health shows extreme promise that sooner rather than later Malaysia will be in full steam once again.