International COVID 19 Infectious disease expert: 1,000 may die in 1-2 years if Covid vaccination...

Infectious disease expert: 1,000 may die in 1-2 years if Covid vaccination rates among elderly don’t improve

As Singapore reopens, there will also be an increase in Covid-related deaths, especially among older members of society who refuse the vaccine despite its availability.

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Singapore — With Singapore getting ready to adjust to life with Covid, another reality to accept would be the rising number of Covid-related deaths among the elderly, especially among those who refuse vaccination, according to an infectious disease modelling expert. 

However, while this number may seem big, it’s “at par” with the number of flu deaths, said National University of Singapore (NUS)’s Dr Alex Cook in an Aug 17 Reuters report.

With accepting Covid as endemic, Singapore’s thrust in reopening the country as vaccination rates rise could provide an example for other countries looking to reopen as well, the report added.

Reuters quotes the president of the Asia Pacific Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infection, Dr Paul Tambyah, as saying “The only way to have no deaths from a disease anywhere in the world is to eliminate the disease altogether and that has only been done for smallpox.”

There have only been 45 Covid-related deaths since the first infections were detected in Singapore early last year, whereas, for the flu, there are around 880 deaths in a typical year.

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However, as Singapore reopens, there will also be an increase in Covid-related deaths, especially among older members of society who refuse the vaccine despite its availability. 

NUS’ Dr Cook pointed out that people barely pay attention to deaths caused by the flu. 

“While the idea of hundreds of COVID deaths seems shocking compared to the deaths so far and worth taking efforts to prevent, it is on par with influenza, which society hardly cares about,” he said.

But he added that should vaccination rates not improve among the elderly, there could be as many as 1,000 deaths in the coming one to two years.

Earlier this month, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung already warned of the likelihood of the numbers of those who fall severely ill and die from Covid along with the country’s reopening.

He asked Singaporeans to be “psychologically prepared” for this eventuality and encouraged as many people as possible to get vaccinated.

In an interview aired on Kiss92 FM on Monday (Aug 16), Mr Ong said that 85 per cent of seniors over the age of 70 have had at least one vaccine jab, and for those aged 60 to 69, the rate is over 90 per cent.

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On Wednesday, Aug 18, Singapore saw its first death of a fully vaccinated citizen, a 90-year-old man.

According to the Ministry of Health, “He had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but was advanced in age and had a history of chronic kidney disease and hypertension.”

The Reuters report also said that the dean of the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at NUS, Prof Teo Yik Ying, as saying that the expected number of deaths next year of people from the ages of 60 and above is around 480, based on early results from mathematical models.

“If countries start to move towards an endemic COVID-19 strategy, the expectation is that there will be more related deaths, although it is still unclear how many of these will be excess mortality and how many would have occurred regardless of Covid-19,” Prof Teo is quoted as saying. /TISG

Read also: Covid-19: Revenge of the elderly, neglected dialect-speaking Chinese Singaporean?

Covid-19: Revenge of the elderly, neglected dialect-speaking Chinese Singaporean?

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