KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 — The US-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) has predicted a continuous rise of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia, hitting over 20,000 daily infections from March 3.
The IHME, an independent population health research centre at UW Medicine, part of the University of Washington, projected 15,187 new Covid-19 cases in Malaysia on January 27, but the Ministry of Health (MOH) officially reported 3,680 infections yesterday.
IHME’s predictions of daily infections are based on the number of people it estimates are infected with Covid-19 each day, including those not tested.
According to IHME’s projections, Malaysia will register 20,035 new Covid-19 infections on March 3, increasing to a peak of 20,361 cases on March 13.
Following that, the US-based model projected a decline in the number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia, up to 14,149 new cases on May 1.
The IHME model previously predicted 2,987 new coronavirus infections on January 1. However, on January 1, Malaysia officially registered 2,068 positive cases, lower than IHME’s projection.
IHME also predicted last December that Malaysia would see 4,176 new Covid-19 infections on February 1 (including people not tested), but Malaysia managed to officially record close to that number of cases earlier on January 16 at 4,029 infections. MOH then reported 4,275 new Covid-19 cases on January 23, the highest ever daily tally.
The IHME model doesn’t take into account lockdown measures implemented. The Ministry of Health (MOH) may report a lower number of Covid-19 cases as compared to IHME’s model due to the three-week Movement Control Order (MCO) from January 13 to February 4. Lower official case numbers may also be reported due to MOH’s new policy of only testing close contacts who are symptomatic.
The IHME model also projects daily Covid-19 cases based on vaccine rapid rollout and universal mask use. If vaccine distribution is scaled up over 45 days, IHME’s projections of daily coronavirus infections in Malaysia are only slightly lower than current estimates.
Meanwhile, the IHME projected only 78 per cent of mask use on March 3, with a plateau of between 76 per cent and 79 per cent until May 1.
IHME projected that if 95 per cent mask usage in Malaysia is achieved, daily Covid-19 cases will peak up to 14,205 daily cases on February 4. Following that, there will be a decline in the number of daily cases up to 5,968 new cases on May 1, lower as compared to the normal projection.
Besides that, IHME’s model also projected 2,828 cumulative Covid-19 fatalities in Malaysia by May 1. As of January 27, Malaysia officially recorded 707 total deaths from Covid-19.
IHME projected that on January 22, there would be 10 new Covid-19 deaths in Malaysia. However, MOH reported almost double with a death toll of 18 that day. Daily Covid-19 deaths in Malaysia, IHME predicted, would peak on March 24 at 26 fatalities, before declining to 20 new deaths on May 1.
In the case where there’s rapid vaccine rollout, the cumulative death toll will be slightly lower at 2,762 by May 1, compared to current estimates of 2,828 total deaths by that date.
The IHME model also projected that from February 3, the number of intensive care unit (ICU) beds available would be fewer than the number of ICU beds needed.
According to IHME, the number of ICU beds available in Malaysia is 293 and on February 3 , the number of ICU beds that will be needed as projected by IHME is 300, exceeding the number of beds available.
MOH however has reported that they have 466 ICU beds and 1,583 ventilators available. If MOH maintains the number of ICU beds, by February 20, as projected by IHME, the number of ICU beds needed will be 471, which is higher than the availability of 466 beds.
Despite the high number of Covid-19 cases, IHME has projected that the number of ventilators available will not exceed 200 daily between January 26 and May 1.