Since Sept 11, the Klang Valley has the dubious distinction of seeing the vaccination rate among its adult population exceed 100 percent due to underreporting in the census data.
With such high vaccination rates, one might reasonably assume the deaths still occurring in the region to be among fully vaccinated people – for the simple reason that there are few, if any, unvaccinated people left.
Adolescents are just starting to be vaccinated and children are not eligible, but these age groups are generally less susceptible to Covid-19’s worst outcomes.
However, a closer examination of the Covid-19 death records shows that unvaccinated people still make up the majority of recent Covid-19 deaths in the Klang Valley, despite being an increasingly small minority.
Malaysiakini examined the Health Ministry’s Covid-19 death data for deaths that occurred from Sept 11 to Sept 24.
Of the 272 Covid-19 deaths that occurred during this period, 142 (52.2 percent) were of unvaccinated persons.
For records where age data is available, the ages of the deceased ranged from 18 to 96 with a median of 62. There were 71 who were aged 60 and above, and 50 who were below 60 years old.
In addition, there were 21 (14.8 percent) records where data on age is not available and simply recorded as “-1”.
Most of the unvaccinated people who died of Covid-19 during this period were Malaysian citizens (109 or 76.8 percent), many of whom also had comorbidities (110 or 77.5 percent). Almost one-quarter were foreigners, the bulk of whom presumably were migrant workers.
Meanwhile, 47 (17.3 percent) of the Covid-19 deaths during this period were of partly vaccinated persons and 83 (30.5 percent) were fully vaccinated.
The data on Covid-19 deaths is published on the Health Ministry’s Github data repository and updated daily. This analysis by Malaysiakini uses data as published at 1.05am this morning.
The predominance of unvaccinated people among Klang Valley’s worst Covid-19 outcomes is also reflected through anecdotes.
Hospital Kuala Lumpur anaesthesiologist Hana Hadzrami shared on Facebook on Thursday that everyone receiving treatment at the Covid-19 intensive care unit (ICU) are anti-vaxxers and their family members.
This is apart from one partly vaccinated person, she said, who is the only one who does not require mechanical ventilation to breathe.
She lamented the majority of those who rejected the vaccines are doing so out of their “own preference”.
“We have no issues with people making their own choices if it involves clothing of their favourite colour, the choice of vehicles, or choice of food. Choose whatever you like as long as you don’t bother anyone.
“This is more akin to choosing to dive into a mining pond instead of bathing at home. The problem is they don’t know how to swim or to use a float, but demand people to be on standby to save them if they drown.
“So, when can hospital services be resumed for non-Covid-19 cases if many still want to fight for their ‘own choice’ to reject vaccines and then fill up the hospitals?” she asked.
Previously, a Health Ministry study found that Covid-19 vaccines used under the National Immunisation Programme reduce the risk of ICU admission due to Covid-19 by 83 percent, and death by 88 percent.
Partial vaccination, on the other hand, reduced the risk of ICU admission by 38 percent and death by 49 percent.
Researchers at the ministry’s Institute for Clinical Research estimated that full vaccination prevents one ICU admission for every 67 people infected with Covid-19, and prevents one death for every 97 people infected.
This is on top of an 88 percent reduced risk of being infected in the first place.
Malaysia reported an average of 15,275 cases per day in the last seven days, although the number is currently on a downtrend after reaching a peak last month.
According to the Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV), the vaccination rate among Klang Valley adults on Sept 11 was 100.6 percent, and has since risen to 108.3 percent.
Its figures come with a disclaimer explaining the total exceeds 100 percent because “population statistics from the Department of Statistics Malaysia not accounting for changes in population size since the last census, undocumented residents, and also due to vaccination of undocumented residents and non-residents”.
The last census was conducted in 2010, and the next was due in 2020. However, the 2020 census had been derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic and efforts to conduct the census online received a lacklustre response.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had assured there will be enough vaccines to cover the underestimation of the population size.