Malaysia Dateline

Premature to say Covid-19 becoming endemic in October, death rates still high

It is premature for the new Health Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin, to talk about Covid-19 becoming endemic in Malaysia at the end of October when Covid-19 death rates are still high despite a high vaccination rate.

While Malaysia should move away from the “Zero Covid” policy to ”Live with Covid” policy, we must strike a proper balancing act to ensure that while there is not a total end to Covid-19, there is also a resumption of normal, pre-pandemic economic and social life.

Many pandemics do end and become endemic, morphing into something that is no longer an emergency, but rather an annoyance, an ugly and even painful fact of life that people simply learn to cope with, like the flu or common cold – but the question is when and how we get to that point.

Vaccines have changed the balance with the ability to contain Covid-19’s worst outcomes – severe illness, hospitalization and death – but vaccines alone cannot drive hospitalisations and deaths to zero with the rise of Delta and other variants. Vaccines provide great but not perfect protection.

I am reminded of what Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said recently that US was still “in pandemic mode”, far from the 10,000 cases a day that would begin to feel more “comfortable”.

Fauci said: “Right now, we’re still in pandemic mode, because we have 160,000 new infections a day.”

For Malaysia, we cannot claim that the pandemic has ended unless we are having 1,000 cases or less a day.

How can we claim that the Covid-19 pandemic has ended when we are in the world’s Top Ten countries for daily new Covid-19 cases and daily Covid-19 deaths –yesterday, we were the world’s top No. 4th country in daily new Covid-19 cases and world’s Top No. 5th country for daily Covid-19 deaths.

We will overtake Iraq today to ranked No. 22 and overtake Netherlands tomorrow to be ranked No. 21 among nations in the world with the most cumulative total of Covid-19 cases!

Yesterday, we also beat all the higher top 22 countries in both “Daily Covid-19 cases per million” and “Daily Covid-19 deaths” categories for Sept. 9, 2021. (Source: Our World in Data” website).
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Media Statement by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.