B.Buyantogtokh: The age group of 65-69 leads in vaccination rate with 110.9 percentSociety
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/. We interviewed Head of the Department for Healthcare Policy and Implementation Coordination at the Ministry of Health B.Buyantogtokh about COVID-19 vaccination in Mongolia.
- So far, our country has fully vaccinated 60 percent of its population against COVID-19. Compared to other countries, how well are we doing for a country with a relatively small population? There must have been various factors that brought us to the current state. Could you elaborate on this?
- 60.1 percent of the total population of Mongolia has been fully vaccinated. This is a great indicator. Accelerating the vaccination drive, children aged 12-17 are currently being administered with COVID-19 vaccines. By involving the children in vaccinations, about 70 percent of the population will be vaccinated.
There was a study that showed that the total number of COVID-19 cases in Mongolia would reach 1 million by September 1 if we had not vaccinated 60.1 percent of our population. Despite this, now is not the time to relax.
- There has been news about 7 cases of the Delta variant being recorded in our country. Did this number increase? What are the preventive measures currently being taken?
- After having a certain number of COVID-19 samples run through tests, we found that 93.3 percent of the samples were the Alpha variant, with 5.6 percent being the Delta variant. It could be said that the second wave of cases that occurred since June were mostly the Alpha variant. The Delta variant, on the other hand, can spread easily and cause complications. More specifically, studies have found that the variant is 40-80 percent more infectious, and the likelihood for hospitalization is twice as much. Thus, it is important that we continue to adhere to infection prevention guidelines.
- Has there been any studies on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination in Mongolia?
- As of today, statistics show that about 80 percent of the confirmed cases are patients showing mild symptoms, whereas the rest are patients that are in serious, critical, and very critical conditions. The vaccines are expected to bring the percentage of patients with mild symptoms to 85 percent.
- Of the total people administered with COVID-19 vaccines, which age group has the highest vaccination rate so far?
- The age groups with the highest vaccination rates are currently the target age group of 65-69 with 110.9 percent (64,469), the age group of 60-64 with 101.8 percent (107,212), and the age group of 55-59 with 100.6 percent (142,818). Vaccinations are carried out in order to reduce infections as well as the severity of illness and prevent deaths. So far, a total of 3.6 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in 194 countries of the world.
- Is it possible to vaccinate our citizens that are currently in mandatory isolation?
- No. This is due to the fact that our citizens are being tested and monitored for possible symptoms at the isolation facilities. However, it is possible to be fully involved in vaccinations after the isolation period. As currently there is high risk for imported cases of the Delta variant, the Ministry of Health and the National Center for Communicable Diseases are carrying out works at isolation facilities to involve the citizens in tests.
As for fully vaccinated citizens arriving in the country, they are required to isolate themselves at home for a certain period after being tested upon arrival. One of the measures being taken in order to properly implement this measure is how they are regularly asked about their symptoms over the phone. In aims of preventing the spread of the Delta variant, we are paying special attention to those coming from abroad.
- The General Entrance Exams will soon be taking place for high school graduates. The operations of schools, colleges, and universities are also currently planned to be resumed from September 1. As all this will result in an increase in movement, what measures will be taken during this period?
- I believe that measures will be taken on the nationwide level. The risk of infection would, of course, increase along with the increase in movement. However, it is possible to limit the number of infections by adhering to the infection prevention guidelines. Infection risks would decrease if we continue to properly wear our face masks, keep social distance, regularly wash our hands and sanitize them.