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Misunderstanding of slow speed of vaccination—Magistrate Yang Wen-Ke’s public letter to defend medical personnel: Senseless manipulation of numbers
  • PostDate:2021-07-21
  • Modified Date:2021-08-30

Misunderstanding of slow speed of vaccination—Magistrate Yang Wen-Ke’s public letter to defend medical personnel: Senseless manipulation of numbers

Currently, vaccination is a critical key in pandemic prevention. The performance indicator for vaccination is coverage for all citizens over the age of 18 years old. During this period, the media has focused on the speed and coverage rate of vaccination in various counties and cities as indicators of the efficiency of vaccination in the different areas. However, the presentation and interpretation of data are not entirely accurate. Hsinchu County has received 112,420 doses of vaccines from the central government, which can provide for only 19.62% of the total population of Hsinchu County. The share it has received is the smallest allocation in the country. Even if all the vaccines received are used up, the coverage rate remains the lowest in the country. Thus, to question Hsinchu County for slow speed of vaccination based on this data is not only unjustified. It also discounts the efforts of grassroots medical staff in Hsinchu County!
Hsinchu County Magistrate Yang Wen-Ke submitted a letter to the media yesterday (20th). In the letter, he stated that in their tables, the media had highlighted that as of July 19, Hsinchu County has received 112,420 doses of vaccines, but has only vaccinated a total of 86,181 people and achieved a coverage rate of 14.5% for the first dose of vaccine. Based on this coverage rate, some people have criticized and questioned the Hsinchu County Government for slow speed of vaccination, and even colleagues in the public health clinics have questioned the results despite their hard work.
The County Government has carefully reviewed the data and initially thought that the result was due to the different vaccination strategies adopted by the different counties and cities. After completing vaccination for seniors aged 65-68 years old in Hsinchu County, the coverage rate should have been consistent with the national average. However, the result showed otherwise. Analysis of the quantity of vaccines showed that Hsinchu County was issued 112,420 doses of vaccine by the central government. This allocation accounts for 24.63% of the total population of those 18 years old or above in Hsinchu County, ranking the second lowest among all counties and cities in the country. Furthermore, the allocation accounts for only 19.62% of the entire population in the county, making it the lowest in the country.
The population structure of each county and city is different. The proportion of people aged 65 years old or above in Hsinchu County is 13.15%, which is the second lowest in the country. Based on the quota ratio of vaccines distributed by the central government, Hsinchu County received the second lowest allocation of vaccines in the country for those aged 65 years old or above. If we divide the number of vaccination by the total population, and also take into account the fact that those aged 0-17 years old account for 20.3% of the total population in Hsinchu County which is in effect the second highest in the country, the vaccination rate after calculation is even lower.
For example, the population ratio of Hsinchu City is similar to Hsinchu County. Hsinchu City has the highest proportion of young people in the country. However, its vaccination coverage rate is nearly 5% higher than that of Hsinchu County. Based on the cumulative quantity of vaccine delivered in proportion to the population, it is evident that Hsinchu City has 4.17% more vaccine than Hsinchu County in terms of the proportion of vaccine to total population. In terms of the quantity of vaccine for those aged 18 years old or above, the difference between the two is 5.53%. Given the similar population ratios between Hsinchu County and Hsinchu County, and the fact that Hsinchu County has 120,000 more people than Hsinchu City, such disparity in the amount of vaccine allocated by the central government is incredulous.
Even if Hsinchu County completes the administration of all 112,420 doses of vaccines as quickly as possible, the vaccination coverage rate for those aged 18 years old or above would only be 24.63%, which is far behind other counties and cities. If calculated in terms of vaccination coverage rate for its entire population, the coverage rate would only be 19.62% after administering all the vaccines. This rate is far behind the national coverage rate of 21.5%, and lower than that of other counties and cities. Therefore, to criticize and pit counties and cities against each other based on this data is extremely unfair.
Last, Magistrate Yang Wen-Ke pointed out that everyone on the island is suffering the same pandemic. If statistics and the interpretation of data lack integrity, they will lead to diversion and misunderstandings among the people. It is unfair to the medical staff and grassroots colleagues who work tirelessly on the front line every day to administer vaccines and can even undermine morale in pandemic prevention. Magistrate Yang believes that by working towards a unanimous goal, Taiwan can quickly increase the vaccination rate of all its people. Therefore, there should only be one data to be evaluated, and that is the vaccination coverage rate of all its citizens.