Find–test–trace–isolate–support method crucial

Datuk Dr Musa Mohd Nordin

KUCHING: A medical expert has expressed concern over the country’s high reliance on vaccination in the management of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Datuk Dr Musa Mohd Nordin, consultant paediatrician and neonatologist based at KPJ Damansara Specialist Hospital pointed out that find-test-trace-isolate-support (FTTIS) method continues to be crucial and formed the basics in the management of the pandemic.

He noted that mass and targeted exercise of FTTIS was still relevant as well as needed particularly for high-risk communities such as those who were in nursing homes, factories as well as construction sites.

“I am quite concerned that the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) are putting all of our eggs in one basket — the vaccine basket.

“The management of the pandemic must utilise an integrated approach. When we test and identify those who are needed to be isolated, the chances of transmitting the infection to the community can be prevented.

“We must bear in mind that 55 percent of the variants of concern (VOC) usually do not show any signs or symptoms in which those affected are asymptomatic. Thus, FTTIS is crucial to ensure that those 55 percent are not missed out,” he said.

He said this during a live discussion on ‘Fearful Alpha, Beta and Delta’ on Borneo Channel’s Facebook page on Saturday.

Dr Musa stated that MOH must not be too engrossed or passionate on vaccination only, as it would take up to two weeks to be effective after the second dose had been administered.

He said FTTIS must be carried at an optimum level because there is a window of infection transmission during the waiting period of three to four weeks for the second dose after the first dose has been administered.

“For vaccines such as Pfizer and AstraZaneca to be effective against the Delta variant, the first dose offers only 33 percent protection. However, the percentage increases to 92 and 96 percent two weeks after the second dose has been administered.

“Vaccination is important, but we must not forget FTTIS. The MOH cannot only test and isolate those who are symptomatic especially when science has shown that 55 percent are often asymptomatic,” he explained.

It was reported that Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the Delta variant has been detected in almost every state and it is believed to be among the reasons for the sharp increase in the number of cases for the country.

On July 13, he said that in the case of 2,779 vaccinated health workers infected, there were also Delta and Beta variants. However, many of them were in categories one and two of the severity of the disease.

Meanwhile, given the spike in number of cases as well as emergence of clusters involving prisons and detention centres, Dr Musa said FTTIS was apt for such places.

He noted that early detection and identification of those who were infected could prevent the occurrence of super spreader in such places.

“With FTTIS, surveillance and screening can be conducted to identify promptly those who are infected, be they symptomatic or asymptomatic. Once they have been identified, they can be isolated and quarantined to prevent transmission of infection to others.

“There have been a number of clusters related to such places thus there is a need for those in charge to get advice as well as assistance from the MOH and experts.

“This is also applicable to other high-risk places or communities like nursing homes, construction sites and factories,” he added.