Written By : Khairi
The mutated variants of the Covid-19 virus such as Delta and now Lambda, are considered more deadly in comparison to when the pandemic first started.
Up to Aug 4, Malaysia’s daily Covid-19 fatalities have reached 5.76 deaths per million people albeit the ongoing vaccination rollout.
Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz was right when he said we need a new indicator for recovery as physical distancing and mobility restrictions tend to bring economic scarring.
Service industries, such as tourism and aviation, are affected by the pandemic, causing people to lose their jobs and incomes, while gross domestic product growth in these industries shrunk by 5.5 per cent year-on-year in 2020.
Spike in the unemployment rate from 3.9 per cent in March last year to 4.5 per cent in May this year as businesses face challenges to achieve required revenues and profits to meet their obligations, gives a negative multiplier effect to the economy.
Any move for a new Covid-19 blueprint should focus on making Covid-19 a less harmful disease like the flu.
Based on Our World in Data, 15 per cent of global population have been fully vaccinated. But vaccination must not be the only answer.
Malaysia has an impressive vaccination rate where the adult population is expected to be fully vaccinated by October, giving our country a chance for a better future.
In parallel, investments in research and development of healthcare to combat Covid-19 are necessary by creating annual boosts to vaccinated individuals as a shield against new variants.
In the long run, low mortality, and hospitalisation rates due to infections offer assurance to people that living with Covid-19 is possible.
When most of the people are fully vaccinated, risks of death, hospitalisation and Intensive Care Unit utilisation can be expected to decrease.
For example, up to Aug 3, the United Kingdom recorded 2.06 Covid-19 deaths per million people when 57.1 per cent of the population had been fully vaccinated versus Malaysia with 6.03 deaths with only 23 per cent completing their doses.
Vaccination plays a big role in reducing the risk of transmitting the virus among individuals and the seriousness of infections.
There is still room for improvement considering that almost 16 per cent of the Malaysian population have yet to register for vaccination, while 20.24 per cent have yet to receive their first dose at the point of writing.
When the severity of infections is low, people are more likely to move around to perform their daily activities and restrictions can be loosened.
Businesses will flourish again; large gatherings can take place and the revival of more sectors will help us and other countries to achieve pre-pandemic ecosystem.
The public healthcare system will benefit from the vaccination campaign as the number of critical Covid-19 patients will show a downward trend, and self-testing and self-isolation can be done at home.
Looking at the pattern of Covid-19 outbreaks where there are continuous spikes in the number of cases and infections, that is why we need to adopt new strategies to weather the adverse impacts of Covid-19.
Now, with mobility restrictions imposed but new waves of Covid-19 keep emerging along with virus mutations, this begs the question — is living with Covid-19 the way forward?