PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - As more people get vaccinated, Malaysia should be prepared to change the way it reacts to the high daily number of Covid-19 cases and instead switch its attention to the hospitalisation and death rates, said Mr Khairy Jamaluddin.
The Science, Technology and Innovation Minister said data had shown that death and hospitalisation rates start to reduce the moment vaccination rates reach between 30 per cent and 40 per cent.
"That's when we can start hoping, after seeing empirical, real-world data, for death rates to go down," he said when addressing the National Pharmacists Convention 2021 as a panel speaker on Friday (July 9).
Mr Khairy, who is also coordinating minister of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, said vaccination is key to the country's recovery plan and Malaysia is expected to reach at least a 30 per cent vaccination rate by the end of August.
He said that by then, the focus should no longer be about suppressing numbers but mitigating the situation to make sure death and hospitalisation rates are kept low so as not to burden the healthcare system.
"The new way of looking at Covid-19 after we have reached a certain threshold of vaccination is not in the case numbers.
"The case numbers may be high but it's not about suppression any more but mitigation to ensure people don't die of Covid-19," he said.
Mr Khairy added that vaccination might not be able to suppress transmission of the disease, especially with more transmissible strains like the Delta variant, but it has proven to be effective in reducing hospitalisation and death rates.
He cited the example of Britain, which has switched its focus to mitigating the situation despite experiencing a high number of daily cases after recently easing Covid-19 prevention measures.
"The United Kingdom right now is facing more than 30,000 cases a day due to the Delta variant and because it has started to open up. You can see that stadiums are full for the Euro 2020 football competition and the people are not wearing masks.
"The numbers will go up but the United Kingdom has started looking at hospitalisation and also death rates," he said.
Based on data from the Johns Hopkins University Centre for Systems Science and Engineering, Covid-19 death rates have dipped sharply since Jan 27 this year, when there were 1,725 deaths recorded in Britain.
On July 8, Britain recorded 35 deaths.
Mr Khairy also said 10 per cent of the total population of Malaysia has been fully vaccinated, checking off one of the conditions to move from phase one of the National Recovery Plan to the next.
He said 10.4 million doses have been given so far in the national vaccination programme, with 30 per cent of Malaysian adults receiving one dose of the vaccine while another 13.6 per cent have taken both doses.
He also said the programme has been constantly administering more than 300,000 doses daily since July 5, with numbers hitting 376,909 on July 8 alone.
On Friday, Malaysia recorded 9,180 new Covid-19 cases, 77 deaths and 5,713 recoveries.