Not too long ago, a life without masks, contact tracing and lockdowns seemed a distant fantasy. The swift rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, however, has managed to make that a reality.
In Asia Pacific, many countries have seen a boost of health in their communities and economies amid intensified vaccination efforts. In Singapore, 93% of the population has been fully vaccinated against the virus — a shot in the arm for the economy, with life returning to pre-pandemic norms. Restrictions have largely disappeared, rules around online-check ins have relaxed and business recovery has gained momentum. With border restrictions easing, visitor arrivals in the city are expected to increase by up to 6 million this year.
How have COVID-19 vaccines impacted the rest of the region? Find out in KPMG’s Vaccinations Report 2021, which analyses the relationship between immunisation and recovery rates in 5 major markets: India, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea and Vietnam.
Key benefits of vaccination
COVID-19 vaccination helps to reduce the spread and severity of the virus, lowering infection, hospitalisation and mortality rates. The vaccination programme in South Korea, for instance, has helped to flatten the rate of infections significantly. Of new cases in the country between February and August 2021, 91% were unvaccinated, 7% not fully vaccinated and only 2% vaccinated.
Lower healthcare costs
A key benefit of being fully vaccinated is a lower health bill, especially in countries like the Philippines where patients have to co-pay for COVID-19 treatments. Research shows that fully vaccinated people have milder symptoms and are less likely to end up in intensive care units if they are hospitalised, avoiding potentially hefty costs.
In severe cases, employees could risk losing their jobs should they require long-term treatment for chronic COVID-19-related symptoms such as fatigue, muscle pain, depression and anxiety months after an infection. For many, the cost of not being able to work is an added burden too high for them and their families. Being fully vaccinated helps to guard employees — against both infection and potential losses in productivity.
Less stress on national resources
Governments stand to unlock significant cost savings with vaccinations as they drive down infection rates, incidences of severe COVID-19 consequences and healthcare expenditure. Currently, governments in India, Indonesia and South Korea bear the full costs of COVID-19 treatments. Hospitalisation fees for intensive care treatment can also cost the governments upwards of US$10,000 per patient.
Business recovery and healthy economies
Progress in vaccination is an important barometer for growth in Asia Pacific. As vaccination rates pick up, people will spend, employees can return to work and businesses will be able to resume operations. The opening of borders for vaccinated individuals also helps to lift the labour market and boost international trade, addressing labour shortages and driving up revenue for economies.
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KPMG in Singapore