Some countries are currently grappling with groups that show vaccine hesitancy, while others have to deal with anti-vaxxers.
Here in Penang, Covid-19 cases were on a worrying uptrend throughout August into September 2021. In response, on September 1, the government implemented Operation Surge Capacity, a concerted vaccination plan that worked so well in the Klang Valley, not only in Penang, but also in other states like Sabah, Johor, Kedah and Kelantan, which were equally affected by rapid rise of cases.
It would take almost six weeks for the efforts to bear fruit, as Penang saw its daily new cases decline from 1,375 on September 18 to 438 on October 17. In tandem with this drop, there was also a reduction across the board in the number of cases per 100,000 persons for the three separate categories, namely the fully vaccinated, those who have only had a single dose, and the unvaccinated.
For the same period between September 18 to October 17, this crude rate dropped from 63.25 per 100,000 persons to 22.11 for the fully vaccinated; 109.54 per 100,000 persons to 19.39 for those have only had a single dose, and 88.01 per 100,000 persons to 37.57 for the unvaccinated.
The highest for daily cases ever hit in that period for the fully vaccinated was 67.92 per 100,000 persons on September 21, compared to the highest for the unvaccinated at 98.06 per 100,000 on September 27.
All calculations are based on separate denominators, calculated as per the vaccinated percentage (for the previous day) of the total population for the three categories, with an assumed total population of 1,774,400 in Penang.
A crude rate was used as there is a daily dynamic shift in denominators for the fully vaccinated, those who have only had a single dose, and the unvaccinated.
As of October 16, out of the assumed population of 1,774,400 in Penang, we have the following;
- Fully vaccinated: 1,284,666
- Single dose: 165,019
- Unvaccinated: 324,715
From this disproportionate population by category, the absolute daily cases now show a higher daily percentage of cases from the fully vaccinated group.
Therefore, there is the need for a better comparison by comparing like for like, as in the number of cases per 100,000 persons of the same category.
As mentioned, vaccines work across the board. All categories are hovering around the 20 to 30 cases per 100,000 persons figure after hitting a high of more than 100 cases per 100,000 persons in early September.
It is no coincidence that this drop in case numbers coincide with the steady rise in the number of fully vaccinated persons, from 56.4 per cent (September 17) of the total population to 72.4 per cent (October 16). There is definitely still room to improve the number of vaccinated persons, with the current focus on teenagers to complete two doses.
We should expect a further drop in cases. Yet, there is the concern that as state borders are now open for the fully vaccinated, there might be a change in the current dynamics of cases, Only time can tell.
For now, we must continue to be vigilant and observe the SOPs. Let us continue to appreciate how vaccination slowly but surely helps.. whether we choose to see it or not.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.