KUALA LUMPUR, June 2 — A study has found that the COVID-19 death toll in the country may reach up to a staggering 26,000 by September based on the current trajectory, said World Health Organisation (WHO) Science Council member Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman.
The estimated number will be at least nine times the current cumulative death toll, which stood at 2,993 today.
She said the study, conducted by the Institute for Health Metric and Evaluation (IHME) of the University of Washington in the United States, also estimated that the daily death rate would go as high as 200 cases towards the end of August.
“COVID-19 is set to be the second-highest cause of death in Malaysia after heart attack,” the infectious diseases expert said in a Sinar Harian programme hosted by Tokoh Wartawan Negara Tan Sri Johan Jaafar that was aired live today.
The IHME, on its website, stated that the estimation took into account six drivers of change in mortality that have happened since the onset of the pandemic.
These include the total number of all deaths directly related to COVID-19 infection, the increase in mortality due to healthcare being delayed or deferred, the increase in mortality due to increases in mental health disorders and the reduction in mortality due to decreases in injuries because of general reductions in mobility associated with social distancing mandates.
Other factors include the reduction in mortality due to reduced transmission of other viruses and the reduction in mortality due to some chronic conditions such as cardiovascular diseases that occur when frail individuals, who would have succumbed to these conditions, die earlier from COVID-19 instead.
Dr Adeeba, who is also the chairman of the Malaysian AIDS Foundation, stressed that the fight against COVID-19 was one that all Malaysian should be involved in, with the current lockdown being the most important battlefield.
“We should take this MCO (Movement Control Order) to really reflect, strategise and reset. Make plans that we can carry forward while awaiting the complete vaccine roll-out. I don’t think we can afford to have MCO 5.0 anymore.
“The leadership must also be responsible to restore the public’s trust because, in terms of health, trust is the currency of public health… like it or not, the government must regain the (public’s) trust, which we had during the earlier MCO,” she said.