Monday, July 26, 2021

Malaysia's Other Covid Numbers

Covid cases in Malaysia are comfy at 5 digits and nothing's gonna change. And yet it's  bewildering to note that the authorities are confidently predicting numbers to drastically plunge next month. 

Wow,  talk about misplaced optimism. Unless they know something that I do not. 

Already, we have racked up another new record today with 1,009 patients warded in ICU. 

Interestingly, Health D-G Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah announced that 92 percent of new Covid cases were not vaccinated. Another way of looking at it is that 8 percent of those who have been immunized have Covid. 

Anyway, I don't see cases coming down anytime soon - and I'm betting that we'll quietly abandon the idea of focusing on infection numbers and instead highlight on the number of deaths and patients needing critical care, what we refer to as Levels 3, 4 and 5. This way, we'll be looking at only numbers that are in two or three digits. A lot more palatable, I daresay.

We shall see if I'm right or not.

Hartal Doktor Kontrak

Thousands of young Malaysian medics plan to participate in an industrial action today to express their discontent with a contract system they say is unfair. 

It is said there are something like 23,077 contract medical officers nationwide who are in limbo over a lack of pathways to obtain permanent jobs. 

And all of them have been on the frontlines battling the Covid pandemic. 

These doctors earn far less than counterparts with permanent jobs, face slow career progression dependent on contract renewals and cannot move to the private sector until they have served close to five years in the public health system – as it is mandated for all medical graduates. 

The PN government have been dragging their feet – and after much deliberate delay, on Friday, the backdoor prime minister made a couple of small concessions to try and pacify the aggrieved doctors but organizers called the move ‘half-baked’ and vowed to go ahead with the walkout. 

Dr Mustapha Kamal, a spokesman for the Hartal Doktor Kontrak (Doctors’ Contract Strike) group, noted that the proposals were enclosed in a press statement rather than a government circular – which he said meant officials could go back on their word any time. 

“As long as the government refuses to call [the strike organisers] to the negotiation table, we will proceed with the hartal”, he said. "We want this solution to be in a government circular, in black and white”. 

As the public face behind the planned strike, the doctor said the effort has become more than just about contract doctors. “We are fighting for the nation’s health care”, he had declared on Friday. 

I support Hartal Doktor Kontrak!

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Malaysia Hits Jackpot

Malaysia’s Ministry of Health reported a record 17,045 Covid-19 cases and 92 deaths in the past 24 hours, with total infections now passing the ONE MILLION MARK.

To be exact, 1,013,438 cases todate.

We hit jackpot! 

Malaysians know who to point the finger at – and surely, we must expect these twats and idiots to be held accountable for the mountain of Covid mess they are burying us under. 

In fact, a police report has been lodged in Kuala Lumpur over the Perikatan Nasional government’s alleged mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

A band of activists and opposition lawmakers led by lawyer Ambiga Sreenevasan (left), had resolved to act today. 

She said: “We decided to lodge a report because we believe there must be accountability. Some of the issues that we highlighted include not enough early testing, the manner in which the government has failed to share (enough) information, mistreatment of migrant workers and not enough resources given to the hospitals. 

We are now asking the accountability of this government in the way that they have handled this crisis. They must know that there are legal consequences for negligence in Malaysia today. We are talking about the lives of Malaysians and we cannot but take this very seriously”. 

She added that the report was made under Section 269 and Section 304 (a) of the Penal Code. 

Section 269 covers a negligent action in which a person knows or has reason to believe is likely to cause the spread of infectious diseases dangerous to life which is punishable by a maximum six-month imprisonment or fine or both. 

And Section 304 (a) states whoever causes the death of any person, by doing any rash or negligence act not amounting to culpable homicide, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or with both. 

Certainly, Health Minister Dr Adham Baba and related ministries must be held liable for their alleged criminal negligence. 

One brilliant suggestion I saw on Facebook:

#KerajaanBodoh #KerajaanGagal 

Covid Cases Surge in Sweden and Iceland Despite Vaccinations

Sweden is already preparing to administer a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine this September, local media had reported on July 08, 2021. 

Speaking to Swedish daily Aftonbladet, Richard Bergstrom, the Scandinavian country's vaccination coordinator, said Covid cases are on the rise. 

Bergstrom said people have become infected after receiving two doses of vaccine, suggesting everyone must be careful. A third dose should be given, he insisted. 

And then added that the country is also preparing for a fourth dose expected to be administered in the future. 

Iceland is another country which has done very well with its vaccination rollout, with over 85 percent of the population above 16 being fully jabbed. 

Yet, I just read that the country is seeing a surge in cases, the majority of which are due to the Delta variant. 

It is set to resume restrictions at its borders, requiring a negative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test less than 72 hours old for travellers who are fully vaccinated.

Therefore, it would be foolhardy for Malaysia to think that just because we are rushing to vaccinate everybody in order to achieve the so-called herd immunity, we'll soon be out of the woods. Not by a long shot!

On Friday, Liverpool’s pre-season game – their first over a full 90 minutes – was against Bundesliga side FSV Mainz 05 (or just Mainz) and which saw the former earning a low-key 1-0 win. 

The next match is against Hertha Berlin on Thursday.

194 Million Cases and UK Contemplates Booster Shots

Covid refuses to be ignored as it infects the world without pause. The world is now sitting on 194 million cases.

Pakistan is country #30 to have accumulated one million cases. Psst, Malaysia is next, given our massive daily Covid numbers. We're very nearly there! 

And Ghana has joined C100K, making it country #101.

In the UK, a UCL Virus Watch study has received support from scientists – and they are backing proposals for Covid boosters beginning September, given their concerns about post-jab falls in antibodies. 

Falls in antibodies after vaccination are expected and do not necessarily mean people are more vulnerable to disease – but the researchers are concerned that if the declines persist the effectiveness of the vaccines may diminish. 

Note: While antibody levels are important for protection, the immune system has other defences that are built up after infection or vaccination. It is normal for antibody levels to wane over time and for the immune system to “remember” the infection with memory B cells. Should the virus invade, these cells rapidly churn out antibodies targeted at the virus. Further protection comes from T cells, which destroy infected cells and limit the severity of disease. 

The said study found that antibodies generated by two doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines started to wane as early as six weeks after the second shot, in some cases falling more than 50% over 10 weeks. 

A final decision on whether to proceed has not been made. 

From Scotland, Professor Eleanor Riley (left) of Edinburgh University said: “I’m not sure that we have enough data yet to say that we actually need to do boosters. We don’t know if we need them. Giving them is going to be expensive and time-consuming. But it might be better than taking the risk of not giving them”.

Indeed, it is unclear whether protection from vaccines has weakened enough to warrant boosters and there are those who argue the doses are needed more urgently in developing countries. 

Prof Matthew Snape (right), a vaccinologist at Oxford University, had this to say: “It’s clear that ongoing protection from vaccines for months to years after immunisation can’t be assumed, hence the importance of ongoing vigilance for any increase in breakthrough infections”.

Whatever one's position on this issue, Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chair of the Joint Committee of Vaccination and Immunization maintains that the booster campaign would be an important insurance policy for vulnerable Brits.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Still On The "Cucuk Angin" Issue

This is a follow-up to my Tuesday post "The Case of the Empty Syringes".

Malaysia’s ‘Spanish Fly’ minister Dr Adham Baba (right) told Malay-language daily Berita Harian on Tuesday that any individual who can prove that he or she has been “vaccinated” with an empty syringe will receive a new injection. 

How to show proof, I am wondering aloud. Unless these people are tested for antibodies. And if the government are ready to foot the bill. 

A simplistic response from a simpleton.

Meanwhile, his daffy deputy has come up with a new excuse. He blamed it on fatigue.

Anyway, vaccine recipients should know of the SOP protocol governing vaccinations. 

Vaccinators are required to show the syringe, filled with the prescribed quantity of the Covid-19 vaccine, prior to its administration to a recipient. And they are also required to show the empty syringe to recipients after the injection is done. Oh yes, now the public can take videos and photos of themselves getting vaccinated.

Indeed, Malaysians are getting anxious and alarmed over the “Cucuk Angin” issue. Already, some police reports on vaccination irregularities have been made by those who claimed they did not experience any side effects after getting their Covid-19 vaccines. 

Vaccination minister Khairy Jamaluddin (right) appears to suggest this is a non-issue. 

Of the 16 million Covid-19 vaccine jabs given so far, there have only been 13 police reports alleging they were given “placebo” vaccines or none at all, with the majority being the result of a misunderstanding, he was quoted as saying. 

Summore, he stressed that there are no links between complaints of empty syringes used for vaccination and the black market sale of vaccines. 

Hmm, how does he know that for sure when he himself highlighted that the police are still investigating black market vaccine sales?! 

I wish these “ministers” can play back and listen to their own words that they have expelled from their mouths. They come out as plain idiotic twaddle and you have to kinda expect it because they ARE idiots.

Covid Vaccines Do Not Provide Total Immunity

Whether Malaysians are genuinely getting the vaccinations or if it's just "cucuk angin", they should still know that Covid jabs do not provide total immunity. 

In fact, I had posted this on this blog on April 15, 2021 and I think it’s pertinent to re-post it: 

Anyway, I'm making this point because of a July 15 news report in Singapore's The Straits Times about World Dream, a Dream Cruises liner that was forced to turn back to the island republic after a Covid-19 case was found on board.

The 40-year-old passenger had tested negative during the mandatory pre-departure ART (antigen rapid test) on Sunday, the day of departure. And according to a notice from Dream Cruises to passengers seen by the Singapore daily, the infected individual was reported to have already received both Covid-19 vaccination doses. 

Indeed, you can never be too careful!

And for your info, three quarters of Singapore’s Covid-19 infections in the last four weeks were among vaccinated individuals, government data shows, as a rapid ramp-up in the city-state’s inoculation leaves fewer people unvaccinated.  

As I was collecting details and getting confirmation for the above, I came across a related news report published on Monday from Canada’s CTV News that carried this intriguing headline “Some cruise lines not accepting passengers with mixed Covid-19 vaccinations”! 

Canada's National Advisory Committee on Immunization had in June 2021 allowed for mix-and-match vaccines, recommending that a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine can be safely combined with a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna shots. 

They also said that while Canadians should be offered the same mRNA vaccine for their second dose as they received for their first if it's available, a second shot of either Pfizer or Moderna is still acceptable. 

But some cruise lines say they will not recognize international passengers who've mixed and matched vaccinations. 

A notice on the company's website, Norwegian Cruise Line said they will not accept mixed vaccination protocols on cruises that embark or disembark from US ports. 

The statement added that all other vessels departing from non-US ports will accept any US FDA, WHO or EMA authorized vaccines, as well as a mixed vaccine series "of only AstraZeneca-SK Bio, Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna combinations". 

For Princess Cruise Lines, guests who have received a vector vaccine, including AstraZeneca, as their first dose, followed by an mRNA vaccine "will not be considered fully vaccinated". 

However, the company will allow for passengers who received mixed mRNA vaccine doses, such as Pfizer and Moderna. 

Holland America Line and Carnival Cruise Line also currently have similar policies in place. 

Royal Caribbean reportedly removed their mixed vaccine policy from their website over the weekend, saying that Covid-19 vaccines fully approved or authorized for emergency use by a national regulatory authority or global health organization are accepted. However, the company noted this may change depending on the port of the cruise. 

While the mix-and-match approach has become common in countries such as Canada and the UK, the US FDA do not recognize Covid-19 vaccine mixing. Besides, they only approve American-made vaccines, i.e. Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. 

The WHO's chief scientist Dr. Soumya Swaminathan (left) on July 12 noted that there is limited data on mixing and matching vaccines and that it could be a "chaotic" situation if "citizens start deciding" when they should be taking "a second or a third or a fourth dose" and from which vaccine manufacturer.