I am very distressed by the recent report on the lacklustre reception of our senior citizens towards the Covid vaccines.
It was a painful reminder of the two weeks of agony we lived through when my 90-year-old uncle and 14 of our immediate cousins and their family members were admitted to Sungai Buloh Hospital for management of their Covid-19 illness.
Three of them, including my uncle, were placed under Category Three of Covid-19 patients, requiring oxygen therapy and close monitoring in the High Dependency Unit (HDU)
We are very grateful to God that they were discharged relatively unscathed, though one of them is now faced with the terrible consequences of long Covid, with excruciating joint pains that are restricting her mobility.
I would not wish this experience upon even my worst enemies. For many of these naysayers, one day in the Covid wards or ICU would surely change their minds immediately.
Since this is not possible, I can only hope that my explanations on senior citizens’ high risks and the number of deaths would make them reconsider their decisions.
All countries, without exception, earmark those above 65 years, those living in long-term home care, and those living with co-morbidities, as being at very high risk to be infected by Covid, and are therefore prioritised after the frontliners for the COVID vaccines.
The following data from Dr Suresh, consultant infectious disease physician at Sungai Buloh Hospital, shows that:
- Persons between 51-70 years old are 26 times more likely to deteriorate with Covid-19, unlike persons between 12-30 years old.
- Persons above 70 years old are 94 times at risk of getting worsening Covid-19.
If one have a co-morbidity, e.g. diabetes, heart disease, chronic kidney disease:
- Your risk of worsening Covid illness is six times higher if you are below 50 years old.
- If you are both above 50 years old and living with a co-morbidity, your risk is 16 times higher.
- 85 per cent of Covid-related deaths occurred in persons above 50 years old.
- More than half of the deaths (52 per cent) occurred in persons above 60 years old.
The table below compares the risk of death according to the different age groups.
- The risk of Covid-related deaths increase exponentially with age.
- Compared to a person less than 20 years old, the Covid-related death risk of a 60-69 year old is 70 times higher, a 70-79 year old is 183 times higher.
- That my 90-year-old uncle survived Covid-19 is truly a miracle, Allah bless him. I think his active early life put him in good stead to make it through.
Because of the increased risk of severe Covid and deaths, it is the Ministry of Health policy to admit:
- All persons aged between 50-70 years old to a nearby hospital for close monitoring.
- All persons aged between 50-70 years old with co-morbidity to a Covid hospital.
- All persons aged above 70 years old with Covid-19 to a Covid hospital.
Data ha sdemonstrated the risk of hospitalisation and death per 100,000 persons of the different age groups.
- Compared to persons aged between 20-29 years old, the risk of hospitalisation of a person aged between 60-69 years old is 12 times higher, 17 times higher in persons aged between 70-79 year old and 18 times higher in persons aged above 80 years old.
- The risk of death compared to the 20-29 year old cohort is 64 times, 143 times and 260 times in the 60-69, 70-79, and above 80 age groups.
Since fear of Adverse Effects Following Immunizations (AEFI) is the main reason for the refusal of the vaccine, I will make a contrast between the risk of getting severe Covid and Covid deaths with the risk of getting the most severe form of AEFI, which is anaphylaxis, from the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine.
The risk of anaphylaxis from the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine is five per one million, that is, 0.5 per 100,000 to allow for better comparison.
At the end of the day, we all make decisions in life which may impact our well-being and longevity. Even the mundane task of eating breakfast runs the very small risk of death, that is one in 2696, due to choking on our food. Life goes on and we still eat our breakfasts.
Golfers and footballers in particular continue to play, even in the rain, despite the risk of being struck by lightning, a risk of one in 161,856.
Similarly, the AEFI, the worst form being anaphylaxis to the mRNA vaccine is at a much, much lower risk at one in 400,000.
Yet, we exaggerate the risk in comparison to the higher risk associated with death from choking and from being struck by lightning.
The risk of an American dying from Covid is 512 times higher than from an anaphylaxis AEFI from the Moderna mRNA vaccine.
However, you are 12,000 times more likely to develop an allergy to peanuts than you are to develop anaphylaxis from the Moderna mRNA vaccine. Yet, we do not stop eating peanuts but are hesitant about taking the mRNA vaccines!
I hope these extremely high risks of severe Covid and Covid deaths in the elderly when compared to the extremely rare AEFI of anaphylaxis with the Pfizer mRNA vaccine will convince our uncles and aunties and grandparents to sign up for the vaccines immediately.
And I hope that the higher risk of death during normal daily activities when compared to the rare anaphylaxis AEFI of mRNA vaccines will convince our senior citizens to take the COVID vaccines.
The other AEFI of Covid vaccines are mild and not serious, and most of these will disappear after one or two days.
This has been verified by the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
To all our senior citizens, I plead to you to register with the MySejahtera app to ensure that you are at the front of the queue to receive the vaccines to prevent you from ever getting Covid-19, or from suffering from severe Covid, or from dying from Covid-19.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.