Covid-19: Herd immunity may not be necessary for GE15, says Khairy

PETALING JAYA: Attaining herd immunity may not be necessary for the country to hold its 15th general election, says Khairy Jamaluddin (pic).

“I don’t think we have to reach herd immunity before we are comfortable to have elections.

“As long as the case numbers drop, a lot of people are vaccinated, even if it’s not cutting transmission, even if we are not at herd immunity, the worst outcomes of Covid-19 is prevented for a large number of the Malaysian population, then it will be safe to have elections.

“If you are waiting for zero cases for weeks on end, that might be impossible, ” said the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister held at the Asean Healthcare Webinar 2021 on Wednesday (April 7).

Khairy also said even the top healthcare experts in the country cannot predict or define when it is safe to declare the disease as completely over.

Dr Khor Swee Kheng, who is a health systems and policies specialist, said there is a possibility that the Covid-19 virus could exist in the world “indefinitely”.

“It is also possible that even when you achieve the 80% vaccination coverage, you have to re-vaccinate the population again, ” said Dr Khor, who is also a panellist in the webinar.

Meanwhile, on the persistent fears surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccines, Khairy said there was still more time before the AstraZeneca vaccine arrives in Malaysia.

“How we assess vaccines is by observing what is happening in other parts of the world, especially with regards to adverse events.

“We had a committee meeting to discuss this. The vaccines are coming in May from the Covax facility, so we have a bit of time to decide whether or not to go through with this.

“At the moment, the European Medicines Agency has yet to issue a report, which will determine whether or not there is a causal link between the vaccine and the blood clots.

“We can decide then whether we can go ahead with it (after the report comes out), ” he said.

He also said that a sub-committee has been set up to determine which segments or groups of economic frontliners would be prioritised for vaccination.

The criteria for judging whether such groups are prioritised would be based on factors such as the economic impact of that sector and whether its employees are typically working in a crowded, physically enclosed environment.

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