KUALA LUMPUR, May 12 — Malaysia recorded 39 new Covid-19 fatalities in the past 24 hours, the highest death toll in a single day throughout the epidemic.
The 39 fatalities included three brought-in-dead cases — a 61-year-old man and a 73-year-old woman in Sabah, as well as a 63-year-old man in Negeri Sembilan, and a 73-year-old woman — all of whom had underlying health conditions like high blood pressure, gout, dyslipidemia, diabetes, or heart disease.
Today’s 39 coronavirus-related deaths were reported in Johor (10); Kuala Lumpur (eight); Selangor (five); Sabah (three); two each in Kedah, Sarawak, Kelantan, and Pahang; and one each in Perak, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Terengganu, and Putrajaya. Total Covid-19 deaths in Malaysia has reached 1,761.
The victims comprised 26 men and 13 women, ranging in ages from 43 to 88. Aside from the cases who died before they could seek medical treatment, the length of time between hospital admission and death is unknown for the remaining cases, as the Ministry of Health (MOH) has stopped publishing the patient numbers of people who died from Covid-19.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah also reported 14 new local Covid-19 cases with the South African B.1.351 variant in Kelantan, Kedah, Selangor, and Negeri Sembilan, as well as one imported case of a foreigner with the Indian B.1.617 variant who died from the disease.
The 14 new cases with the variant originating from South Africa included one who was infected after vaccination. Dr Noor Hisham’s statement did not explain if that particular case was infected after the first or second dose, how long after vaccination, which brand of vaccine the person had taken, or if the person merely tested positive for Covid-19 without experiencing severe symptoms. Malaysia has rolled out the Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca-Oxford, and Sinovac coronavirus vaccines.
South China Morning Post reported Monday new real-world data from Qatar, published in a letter to The New England Journal of Medicine, that found the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was 97.4 per cent effective in preventing severe Covid-19 disease or deaths caused by the B.1.351 variant first discovered in South Africa and by the B.1.1.7 variant first identified in the United Kingdom.
However, the Pfizer vaccine was just 75 per cent effective in preventing documented infection from the South African B.1.351 variant, about 20 percentage points lower than the 95 per cent efficacy rate in clinical trials conducted before the circulation of new variants.
As of today, Malaysia has reported 62 Covid-19 cases with the South African variant and two imported cases with the B.1.617 mutation first found in India.
The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday classified the B.1.617 strain as a “variant of global concern”, saying this new strain has spread to more than 30 countries.
Malaysia currently has 40,101 active Covid-19 cases, after reporting 4,765 new infections today. A total of 469 Covid-19 patients are in the intensive care unit, as well as 244 on ventilator support.