KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 — Fully vaccinated individuals who are infected with the highly contagious Delta variant are capable of transmitting the Covid-19 virus to others, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, in a parliamentary written reply last Wednesday, said while initial studies showed that vaccines can reduce the transmission rate, recent findings by the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and in Singapore indicated that fully vaccinated people can still spread the Delta variant, but in a shorter period of time.
“The MOH would like to remind those who have completed their vaccinations to continue observing the SOPs set so that they do not spread the Covid-19 virus to others,” he said in response to Lahad Datu MP Mohamaddin Ketapi’s question on Covid-19 transmission in fully vaccinated persons.
Khairy said vaccinated people can still be infected due to the Delta strain, although they are most likely asymptomatic or with mild symptoms such as fever. This, he said, is clearly seen in countries like the United Kingdom where the case fatality rate remains low despite rising infections.
“However, all Covid-19 vaccines that have been approved for use in Malaysia can still protect a person from severe Covid-19 symptoms, including death. This can be seen with the decrease in Categories Four and Five cases (which require intensive care) in Labuan, Sarawak, and Sungai Buloh Hospital. The mortality rate from recipients among fully vaccinated individuals (vaccine breakthrough death) in Malaysia is also very low at only 0.009 per cent,” Khairy said.
A study published by the CDC last month showed that people infected with the Delta variant can carry detectable viral loads similar to those of people who are unvaccinated, though these levels rapidly decrease in the vaccinated.
The study details a Covid-19 outbreak that began on July 3 in Provincetown, Massachusetts, involving 469 cases. It found that three-quarters of cases occurred in fully vaccinated people.
This prompted the CDC to change its masking guidelines in July for fully vaccinated individuals, reversing its earlier stance that fully vaccinated people did not need to wear masks indoors. According to NBC News, there are currently more states with face mask mandates than there were at the end of July.
Another CDC study published in late August showed that fully vaccinated people comprised about 25 per cent of Covid-19 cases reported in Los Angeles from May 1 to July 25.
Based on official data collated by CodeBlue, breakthrough infections in fully vaccinated people increased in Malaysia from 12.6 per cent of total Covid-19 cases reported on August 12 to 35.1 per cent on September 8. MOH reported more than 5,000 fully vaccinated Covid-19 cases daily since August 31, but stopped releasing data on breakthrough infections on September 9.
A total of 78.8 per cent of Malaysia’s adult population have been fully vaccinated, as of September 20, with 93.2 per cent receiving at least a single dose, according to MOH’s CovidNow portal.