Unvaccinated Covid-19 patients at 12 times higher risk of needing ICU care, dying than those vaccinated

Over 98 per cent of infected people who have been vaccinated now have mild or no symptoms. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

SINGAPORE - Unvaccinated people infected with Covid-19 are at 12 times higher risk of needing care in the intensive care unit or dying, compared with those who are vaccinated and subsequently infected, said Singapore's director of medical services Kenneth Mak on Friday (Sept 24).

"The statistic is grim but it is consistent with the experience reported in many other countries," said Associate Professor Mak at a press conference held by the multi-ministry task force tackling Covid-19 here.

"So a plea once again, please get vaccinated if you're eligible but have not yet done so. If you have a beloved senior in the family who is still unvaccinated, please encourage or make plans to bring your loved one to a vaccination centre as soon as possible," he added.

Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said that as at Friday, 85 per cent of the population have had their first dose, while 82 per cent are fully vaccinated. He added that seniors over 70 now have a vaccination rate of 90 per cent, and as a result, more than 98 per cent of infected people who have been vaccinated now have mild or no symptoms.

Prof Mak reiterated that it is a misconception to think that a senior is protected because he or she does not leave home at all, as it is still possible for the infection to be brought to them by other household members who were infected but did not show symptoms at the time of their visit.

He noted that there are now some younger people being admitted to hospital for Covid-19 infection, including pregnant women.

"For a variety of reasons, some of these women have not been vaccinated during the course of their pregnancy, and perhaps this was because of a concern that the vaccine might affect their ability to get pregnant, or that the vaccine would harm the foetus. Real world data has shown the opposite," said Prof Mak.

Instead, pregnant women are at a higher risk of getting a more severe infection, and therefore getting severe complications arising from either the infection itself or from the pregnancy, he added.

Therefore, they are at a higher risk of needing ICU care, and their risk of dying is also higher.

The College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists within the Academy of Medicine Singapore and the Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Singapore have also strongly advised pregnant women to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

Prof Mak said: "Unfortunately, we have already seen some pregnant women in hospital and in the ICU, and we do not wish to see many more such cases here."

He added that while the overall number of ICU cases remains low and well within Singapore's current capacity to accommodate them, the task force is mindful that the number continues to rise, albeit with a lag of about one to two weeks.

This is the time taken from the onset of infection to the time a person starts to show clinical deterioration.

"And we are concerned that if the trend continues... there may come a time when even the overall surge capacity that we have may be inadequate," he said.

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