About 70% of Covid-19 deaths in S'pore in 2021 were unvaccinated individuals: Ong Ye Kung

Unvaccinated individuals are still at most risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19.

Sulaiman Daud | January 10, 2022, 02:17 PM

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There is a huge difference in the number of deaths between those who are vaccinated against Covid-19 and those who are not.

Speaking in Parliament on Monday, Jan. 10, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung emphasised that vaccinations and booster shots remain key in helping to protect people from the virus.

"In countries where Omicron has spread, the unvaccinated and under-vaccinated are still most prone to falling severely ill when infected," Ong said.

Breakdown in numbers

Responding to various questions from Members of Parliament (MPs) and Dennis Tan of the Workers' Party in particular, who asked for a breakdown in the numbers of deaths, Ong said:

"There were 802 such deaths in 2021, of whom 555 were not fully vaccinated.

Although the unvaccinated is a small proportion of our population, they contributed to 70 per cent of the deaths in 2021.

The remaining 247 were vaccinated with a range of locally-available vaccines."

Ong said he would read out some "crude incidence rates" and warned that this was calculated on "quite a small sample" of just 247 individuals who are vaccinated.

  • 79 deaths per 100,000 for non fully-vaccinated persons overall.
  • 11 deaths per 100,000 for those vaccinated with Sinovac.
  • Close to 8 deaths (7.8) per 100,000 for those vaccinated with Sinopharm.
  • Close to 6 deaths (6.2) per 100,000 for those vaccinated with Pfizer-BioNTech.
  • 1 death per 100,000 for those vaccinated with Moderna.

Ong reemphasised that this sample size is small, and does not take into account other factors which may affect mortality, such as age or the timing of vaccination.

Despite remaining unvaccinated, vaccination rates in general are high

Ong added that around 132,000 individuals aged 18 and above remain unvaccinated, while around 300 persons are medically ineligible.

Ong said they will continue to try and convince those who are medically able to get vaccinated through their primary care physicians, public messaging and the media. But Ong said that as the numbers get smaller, it gets "harder and harder" to convince them.

Nevertheless, Ong said it was "quite an achievement" for the government to have successfully vaccinated over 90 per cent of every eligible age group, especially seniors aged 60 to 69 and 70 and above, which have vaccination rates of above 96 per cent and 95 per cent respectively.

For those aged 12 to 19, 95 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Booster programme update

Ong also gave an update on the booster vaccine rollout.

He said that it is "gathering pace", with about 46 per cent of the population having received their boosters.

Some 900,000 individuals aged 18 to 29 have been brought into the booster programme.

The booster coverage will continue to expand over the month of January.

However, Ong said it was still too early to tell whether it would be necessary for a fourth or fifth booster shot.

"MOH and the Expert Committee on vaccinations will continue to monitor local and international data on the durability of protection from vaccine boosters and the evolution of the virus to assess the need for further vaccinations," he said.

Top image from Gov.sg and Lean Jinghui.

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