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KUALA LUMPUR, July 12– The World Health Organisation (WHO) recently issued a warning that the Delta variant which is more extreme as it is always mutating, can put the world in grave danger.
The Delta variant which was discovered at the end of 2020 in India, is causing great concern in the world as the variant is aggressive and very infectious, contributing to the sharp rise in the COVID-19 cases in many countries, among them, the United Kingdom (UK) with more than 82,000 Delta variant infections, followed by India, United States, Germany, Canada, Portugal and Spain.
The Delta variant is believed to be the source of the COVID-19 spike in Indonesia with 38,391 cases and 1,000 deaths on July 8 resulting in hospitals in Java to be filled to the brim with oxygen supply running low.
Health director-general, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah in a Bernama TV programme, The Nation entitled “COVID-19: Apa Lagi Ikhtiar Kita” last Saturday (July 10) expressed concern that the Delta variant may have a role in the spike of COVID-19 cases in Malaysia.
Following the development, efforts to strengthen and enhance public health are being made to curb the spread of transmission from the aggressive variant.
As at June 30, genome sequencing found 40 COVID-19 infections in the country were of the Delta variant.
Looking at the situation, what can Malaysia do to combat the spread of the variant until the end of the year, after the country recorded more than 9,000 daily COVID-19 cases for three consecutive days namely, July 9 with 9.180 cases, July 10 with 9.353 cases and 9,105 cases on July 11.
According to Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Medical Faculty Infectious Disease Unit head, Dr Rosnida Mohd Noh, the COVID-19 outbreak from Delta variant can be controlled if the people were given two doses of COVID-19 vaccination soon.
In this regard, the government should double efforts to increase the two dose vaccination as it is seen as the best measure to strengthen immunity against the disease.
“To flatten the current infection curve, the most effective ‘medicine’ is vaccine. For safety one dose is not enough, we need to have two doses of vaccine.
“However, we also cannot assume that individuals with two doses of vaccine would not be infected. They can still be infected, only that in 88 per cent of the cases they have no symptoms and in 96 per cent they do not need hospitalisation,” she told Bernama.
The move will reduce the load on hospitals which are now at critical level following near full capacity in intensive care units (ICU).
She explained that dispensing two doses of vaccine should be accelerated especially in densely populated areas to contain the spread of the virus apart from preventing the formation of new variants.
As at July 9, a total of 3,190,789 people or 10 per cent of the population have completed two-dose COVID-19 vaccination since the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) was launched in February.
Programme Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin was quoted as saying that 30 per cent of the adult population have received their first dose while 13.6 per cent have completed both doses.
A study on Public Health England in April and May showed the effective rate of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against the Delta variant was 88 per cent which is two weeks after the second dose was administered.
Meanwhile, two doses of AstraZeneca vaccine have an effective rate of 60 per cent against symptomatic disease caused by Delta Variant.
Dr Rosnida said the Delta variant was reported to be 60 per cent more infectious compared to the original COVID-19 virus and the situation is very dangerous as it can cause the national public health system of a country to paralyse if no comprehensive measures were taken.
‘’The Delta variant spreads too fast and the health system could be further stressed out. Apart from vaccine, other efforts should be doubled, including test and trace as an initial move to curb the outbreak.
‘’The people should also play their role by not having gatherings and in this situation Aidiladha visiting should be sacrificed for the safety of everybody,” she said.
Apart from the Delta variant, the world is also now threatened with the finding of a new variant called Lambda which is said to be even more dangerous and could even be invincible to vaccine.
The Lambda variant, known as C.37, was first detected in Peru and had caused more than 80 per cent of infection cases in the country.
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