PUTRAJAYA: With over 300,000 people in Malaysia vaccinated for Covid-19 in the past three weeks, things are looking bright in the battle against the pandemic.
The Health Ministry also reported a decrease in Covid-19 infections over the past fortnight, and if the downwards trend is maintained, daily cases should go down from four figures to three in May.
The coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin said a majority of the 300,000 people who had been vaccinated as of March 13 were healthcare workers on the front line.
“Based on the breakdown of the 292,104 people who have been vaccinated as of March 13, they comprise 23.86% nurses, 22.23% doctors and 23.4% other healthcare workers such as medical assistants, X-ray specialists and ambulance drivers, ” Khairy said at a joint press conference with Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.The rest of those who have been vaccinated include uniformed officers such as the armed forces and police (21.33%), dentists (5.62%) and pharmacists (3.45%).
Khairy said 302 government officers and elected representatives – which is 0.11% of total – had also received their jabs.
The Science, Technology and Innovation Minister said by the end of March, the country would receive 1,000,350 doses of vaccine from American-German firm Pfizer-BioNTech.
“Pfizer-BioNTech will be sending us 83,070 vaccine doses today (March 15), 124,020 doses on March 22 and 125,190 doses on March 29, ” he said.
On top of that, Khairy said Chinese firm Sinovac also delivered 100,000 doses to Malaysia yesterday, and another 100,000 are expected on March 22.
The Rembau MP will be the first in the country to be vaccinated with Sinovac’s vaccine, which will be administered at his constituency’s public hospital on March 18.
The second dose of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination will be administered from Wednesday, as it has been 21 days since the first phase of the vaccinations began on Feb 24.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah were the first recipients of the vaccine that day.
Meanwhile, Malaysia has not changed its decision to procure vaccine from United Kingdom firm AstraZeneca, after several European countries such as Denmark, Norway and Iceland suspended its use. “We have been in touch with AstraZeneca on the latest developments of their vaccine.
“So far, there is no data which shows a link between their vaccine and the reported cases of blood clot in a few countries.
“We are continuing to update ourselves with their clinical data, but for now, there is no change to our decision to purchase the AstraZeneca vaccine, ” said Khairy.
It was reported that the AstraZeneca vaccine was suspended in several European countries after blood clots were found in some people who had received the vaccine. The European medicine regulator, European Medicines Agency (EMA), has said that investigation on the incidents is underway.
However, EMA noted there is currently no indication that the vaccinations had caused these conditions which are not listed as side effects of the vaccine.
It added that the vaccine’s benefits far outweigh the risks and that the vaccine can continue to be administered while investigation of the cases continue.
A spokesman from the World Health Organisation’s expert advisory committee, too, has assured people that a causal relationship has not been established between the vaccine and the health problems that have been reported, adding that the pause in use was a “precautionary measure”.
Universiti Putra Malaysia medical epidemiologist and biostatistician Assoc Prof Dr Malina Osman said the wisdom of the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) will make sure the country makes the best decision on whether to continue using the AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
“In general, we cannot compromise any issues related to safety.
“I am sure NPRA will step further in order to verify all those available latest findings related to the vaccine.
“The government will only decide based on recommendations by NPRA, ” Dr Malina told The Star.
Malaysian Medical Association president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said Malaysia should not rush into deciding on AstraZeneca.
“In the production of vaccines, a lot of companies may have rushed to beat the market.
“Do not rush to give it to our people. Use whatever vaccines that we currently have and as for AstraZeneca, we should wait till NPRA comes up with clear indications of its safety.
“NPRA must be stringent with this vaccine, now that we know it has problems, ” he said.
Three vaccines, the Pfizer-BioNTech, China’s Sinovac as well as the AstraZeneca vaccine have received conditional approval by NPRA.
The first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to arrive in the second quarter of this year after the government procured 6.4 million doses.
The other vaccines which the government is procuring include Russia’s Sputnik V and China’s Cansino.