Covid-19 vaccines used in M'sia effective against Delta variant, says Health DG

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): The Covid-19 vaccines used in Malaysia have proven effective against the Delta variant, says Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

The Health director-general said this was based on the fact that vaccinations in Labuan and Sarawak had managed to reduce hospital admissions, intensive care unit (ICU) bed usage and use of ventilators for Covid-19 patients.

Dr Noor Hisham expressed confidence that cases in the Klang Valley would also drop once 50% of its population had been fully vaccinated by Aug 31.

"We are already seeing some positive results, where in the Klang Valley, when we started vaccination for the elderly, the age group of 60 and above, patients in Sungai Buloh Hospital decreased and now we are seeing age groups of 40 to 59 and 20 to 39 also decreasing in the last one week,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said this during a question-and-answer session after delivering his keynote address and attending a dialogue at the Malaysia Healthcare Conference 2021 held virtually Saturday (Aug 14).

He noted that from the 67 whole genome sequencing done to identify variants of concern (VOC) in the country from July 17 until August, 66 were confirmed to be the Delta variant.

He said the Delta variant had a higher infectivity rate, or R-naught value, and thus was much more transmissible compared to the original strain which sparked the pandemic last year.

"The R-naught for the original strain started from 2.5, which means one person can infect 2.5 people but now this virus (Delta) was reported at five to eight, which means if 100 people get infected, they can infect 500 to 800 people in one cycle. This is similar to chicken pox (11 to 12) and measles (18),” he added.

He also said more variants are expected to emerge, adding that mutations happen when there are infections that cause the virus to enter and multiply in the lungs.

"Maybe in another three or four more cycles, we can see spike protein mutations that are resistant to our vaccine, and we may not be able to detect them through our testing. The fear is there, but we need to look into solutions, how best to contain this infection in Malaysia,” he added.

Commenting on Ivermectin, Dr Noor Hisham said the results of clinical trials that study the use and efficacy of Ivermectin will be available by next month.

He said the vitro study (experiment done in the laboratory) is showing some results, but the vivo study (experiment on living organisms) shows that a high dosage of Ivermectin is needed to achieve anti-viral effects and it could give some other complications.

He stressed that the Health Ministry will conduct a study on three types of drugs to treat Covid-19 patients as announced by the World Health Organisation (WHO), namely artesunate, imatinib and infliximab.

He said solidarity tests on drugs used in the past such as Remdesivir, Hydroxychloroquine and Lopinavir showed that they were not effective against Covid-19.

He also said 190 homeless people had been fully vaccinated in the first phase of Vaksinasi COVID-19 Gelandangan@WPKL in Kuala Lumpur and 133 people would be in the second phase. - Bernama

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