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Unvaccinated seniors account for two-thirds of Covid-19 ICU cases and deaths

SINGAPORE – Unvaccinated seniors – who make up about 1.5 per cent of the total population – accounted for two-thirds of Covid-19 deaths and intensive care unit (ICU) cases in the past 28 days.

The multi-ministry task force handling the pandemic shared these grim statistics at a press conference on Saturday (Oct 23), as they stressed the importance of getting vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Singapore’s director of medical services Kenneth Mak noted that some have said Covid-19 is now “an epidemic of the unvaccinated getting infected, getting severely ill or even dying”.

“This has been observed in other countries and, regrettably, it now appears to be the case also in Singapore,” he said.

Associate Professor Mak provided other statistics to reinforce his point.

Of the Covid-19 cases here, just over 17 per cent were aged above 60.

About 3.5 per cent of all unvaccinated local cases required either oxygen supplementation or ICU care, in contrast with 0.6 per cent of all vaccinated cases, he said.

He added that an unvaccinated person is 5.8 times more at risk of getting a severe infection, compared to vaccinated people.

Turning to those who died from Covid-19, he said the relative risk of unvaccinated dying of the virus is 11.7 per cent higher than that for vaccinated people.

Unvaccinated seniors aged above 80 were 7.2 times more at risk of needing ICU care or dying than their vaccinated peers, he added.

Prof Mak also cautioned younger people who believe they do not need to get vaccinated as their chances of getting severely ill or needing ICU care is low. They remain at greater risk than those who are vaccinated, he said.

For instance, those aged 60 to 69 are 27 times more at risk of needing ICU care or dying if they are unvaccinated.

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Prof Mak noted some people have pointed out that the absolute numbers of those in hospital who have been vaccinated appear to be greater than those who are unvaccinated.

“That is true. And this is because the total number of people who are vaccinated in Singapore is far greater than the remaining people who are unvaccinated,” he said.

About 84 per cent of the population has been vaccinated against Covid-19.

That is why even though the risk of needing hospital care among vaccinated people is low, there may still be more of them in the hospital than those who are unvaccinated, he added.

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“Please don’t be complacent and assume that your younger age sufficiently protects you from not needing vaccination,” Prof Mak said, adding that those with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer are more at risk of severe infection.

“Tragically, we have seen people delaying vaccinations because they were complacent and thought they would not fall sick only to find themselves not only infected but also in the ICU,” he said.

Some thought seniors in their household would be safe by staying home, and hence not need the vaccine, he noted.

“The facts show otherwise. So, if you are still unvaccinated, I strongly urge you to step forward and get vaccinated now.”

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