Plans in the works for walk-ins

PETALING JAYA: Walk-ins to vaccination centre will be introduced possibly by the end of August or mid-September, says Khairy Jamaluddin.

The coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme said the government would introduce it once those who were registered had been immunised.

“I think once we have cleared them (those who are registered) by the end of August or early September then we will introduce walk-ins.

“You can just go in, show up, and be vaccinated. You will not need a registration anymore, ” he said, adding that the authority was unable to allow walk-ins currently to be fair to those who had registered.

He added that the government was also studying the approach of mixing two different vaccines to boost efficacy against different Covid-19 variants.

He said the Vaccine Selection Technical Working Group, chaired by Institute of Clinical Research director Dr Kalaiarasu Peariasamy, had presented a paper last week on heterologous vaccination, a method of using two different vaccines to boost efficacy against different variants.

He said currently they were looking at real world data from Germany on heterologous vaccinations using AstraZeneca for the first dose and Pfizer-BioNTech as the second dose, noting that data from this had so far shown to have boosted neutralising antibodies and were more effective against different variants.

“The data points are coming in for heterologous vaccinations and once the technical working group is clear on that, it will advise the committee that I chair with the Health Minister. We will then implement the heterologous vaccinations, ” he said during a webinar titled The Path to Herd Immunity organised by The Oxford & Cambridge Society Malaysia on Wednesday.

Khairy noted that there was a possibility that Malaysia would “end up doing this” as a lot of countries had been doing it to boost the neutralising antibodies and efficacy.

During the webinar, Khairy also said they were thinking of shortening the AstraZeneca dosing interval.

However, he said currently there was a problem with the AstraZeneca vaccine supply.

“Part of the AstraZeneca supply from Covax was delayed and some of the supplies from Thailand were also slightly delayed. So, we are recalculating our delivery schedules right now to see whether we can shorten the interval period for AstraZeneca, ” he said.

The AstraZeneca dosing interval is currently at 12 weeks.

Khairy also explained the reasons why other vaccine manufacturers such as Moderna and Sinopharm were not available in the country.

He said the registration of pharmaceutical products in Malaysia had to have a local product registration holder.

“There has to be a company here that is responsible for the product. For Pfizer-BioNTech and Astrazeneca, they have subsidiaries here, but for Sinovac they don’t have it so they appointed Pharmaniaga to become their product registration holder, ” he said.

With the Moderna vaccine, he said there was no product registration holder, noting that nobody had come forward to want to register the vaccine.

Meanwhile, Khairy when explaining about the objectives of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, noted that he would be cautious in using the term “herd immunity” as Covid-19 might be around for quite some time.

“I have stopped using that term, but some of the other leaders are still using the term ‘herd immunity’.

“I have cautioned the Prime Minister against using the term ‘herd immunity’ simply because my view as the coordinating minister and from the data and science is that this may very well be endemic. We may see Covid-19 in a less threatening form but it will stay with us for quite some time, ” he said.

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