KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 5 — Covid-19 infections among children below the age of 12 were almost double the number of cases among adolescents and the elderly in August and September, according to newly released data by the Ministry of Health (MOH).
New Covid-19 infections among children averaged at about 2,760 cases per day from August 1 until September 30, compared to an average of 1,381 cases in adolescents aged between 12 and 17, and 1,472 cases in the elderly aged 60 and above.
Children below 12 formed 93,408 cases or 14.8 per cent of 632,982 total Covid-19 cases in August, and 80,498 cases or 16.1 per cent of 499,441 total infections in September. This is nearly two times higher compared to the 44,908 adolescent cases and 45,373 elderly cases reported in August, and 42,121 adolescent and 47,385 elderly cases recorded in September.
The only other group that exceeded Covid-19 cases in children were adults, with an average 11,919 cases per day between August 1 and September 30. Adults aged 18 to 59 years accounted for 429,204 cases or 67.8 per cent of Covid-19 cases in August and 321,687 cases or 64.4 per cent of cases in September.
The number of Covid-19 infections though appear to be tapering across most age groups, with new cases among children declining 13.8 per cent from 93,408 cases in August to 80,498 in September. In the past two months, a total 173,906 infections were detected in children aged below 12, compared to 179,787 cases in both teenagers and senior citizens.
In adolescents, new Covid-19 infections dropped 6.2 per cent from 44,908 cases in August to 42,121 cases in September, while in adults, cases decreased 25 per cent from 429,204 cases in August to 321,687 cases in September.
However, among the elderly, infections went up slightly by 4.4 per cent from 45,373 cases in August to 47,385 cases in September.
The overall decline in cases, including among under-12s, could be attributed to increased protection as more adolescents and adults get vaccinated. Teenagers may be slightly more protected too, though MOH data as of September 30 is less than 14 days from when the government officially kicked off the inoculation programme for adolescents on September 20.
The National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency has yet to approve the use of Covid-19 vaccines in children aged below 12.
As of October 4, a total 1,751,834 adolescents or 55.7 per cent have received at least a single Covid-19 vaccine dose, which means that 72.9 per cent of the country’s total population has received at least a single vaccine jab.
As for the uptick in elderly cases, increasing international evidence of declining effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines over time points to possible waning immunity among the elderly. The second phase of the national vaccination programme — which prioritised the elderly, those with morbidity problems and people with disabilities — began on April 19.
Fully Vaccinated Now Majority Of Covid-19 Infections
Over the same period between August 1 and September 30, the share of new Covid-19 cases among fully vaccinated people in Malaysia rose from 1,179 cases or 6.9 per cent of 17,150 daily cases on August 1, to 6,837 cases or 53.7 per cent of 12,735 total daily cases on September 30.
The proportion of Covid-19 cases among fully vaccinated people stood at 93,064 cases or 14.7 per cent of total cases in August, 201,101 cases or 40.3 per cent of total cases in September, which is equivalent to 294,165 cases or nearly 26 per cent of overall new 1,132,423 cases for both months.
Meanwhile, the share of Covid-19 infections among unvaccinated people declined from 11,271 cases or 88.5 per cent of total cases on August 1 to 4,233 cases or 33.2 per cent of overall cases on September 30.
The proportion of Covid-19 cases among unvaccinated people was 345,911 cases (54.7 per cent) of total new infections in August and 199,363 cases (40 per cent) in September, which amounts to 545,274 cases (48.2 per cent) for the August-September period.
This is consistent with data by the Penang state health department (JKNPP) which showed that the proportion of fully vaccinated people increased from about 40 per cent to nearly 60 per cent of daily Covid-19 infections in Penang in the last two weeks in September. As of September 30, about 64.2 per cent of Penang’s total population have completed inoculation.
Overall, however, rising vaccination numbers do lead to a downward trend of daily cases from a total new 632,982 cases in August to 499,441 new cases in September, a decline of 21 per cent.
The Real-World Evaluation of Covid-19 Vaccines Under the Malaysia National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (RECoVaM) study led by the Institute for Clinical Research released last month found that complete inoculation with Covid-19 vaccines reduces admission into intensive care by 83 per cent and deaths by 88 per cent.
The study showed that the overall ICU rate among fully vaccinated individuals — 14 days after the second vaccine dose in a two-dose regime — stood at only 0.0066 per cent.
This is equivalent to 953 ICU admissions in 14,500,984 fully vaccinated individuals tracked from April 1 to September 12 who received two doses of either Pfizer-BioNTech, AstraZeneca, or Sinovac.
The RECoVaM survey also found that breakthrough Covid-19 death rates were low among fully vaccinated individuals at 0.010 per cent or 1,445 deaths out of 14.5 million people in the study.