THE world has been under the strain of the Covid-19 pandemic since December 2019. The virus has infected around 114 million people and caused 2.5 million deaths worldwide.
With the initiation of the national Covid-19 Immunisation programme (NIP), we in Malaysia can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The government aims to vaccinate 80% of the adult population in Malaysia in three phases by February 2022. The vaccine is provided free of charge to everyone living in this country.
Malaysia has secured 66.7 million doses from five different vaccine manufacturers – Pfizer-BioNTech (United States), AstraZeneca (United Kingdom), CanSinoBio (China), Sputnik V (Gamaleya Institute, Russia) and Sinovac (China).
All five vaccines have been used in several countries and have an effectiveness rate of between 50% and 95%, which is in line with the US Food and Drug Administration’s cut-off of 50%.
The bottom line is that all these vaccines have reduced the incidence of Covid-19.
As with other vaccines, minor side effects may occur, but that’s a signal that immunity is being developed in vaccinated individuals.
One way to prevent side effects, if any, after getting the jab is to remain at the vaccination centre for 30 minutes. This is clearly outlined in the guidelines.
The slogan for the Covid-19 National Immunisation Programme, “Lindung Diri, Lindung Semua” (Protect Yourself, Protect Everyone), says it all.
Recently, Saudi Arabia’s health ministry said only people who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to attend the Haj this year.
In the future, it may be legal for companies to insist on new staff being vaccinated as a condition of their employment. This “no jab, no job” policy is already surfacing in the UK.
The good news is the World Health Organisation has reported that since January 2021, the number of new Covid-19 cases has halved from five million a week in January to 2.5 million in mid-February.
Vaccinations have played a role in the falling number of cases in the US and UK, which have respectively vaccinated 15% and 30% of their populations. Malaysia will follow this trend, but for that to happen, the public must do their part through the following:
> Update their MySejahtera app and register for vaccination;
> Avoid sharing the anti-vaxxers message on social media and break the chain of fake news;
> Encourage family members and neighbours to get vaccinated; and
> Continue to follow the standard operating procedures drawn up by the Health Ministry after receiving the vaccine. Wear masks and maintain physical distancing when you are in public areas, wash hands frequently, and minimise non-essential travel.
Let us unite to overcome the pandemic. With public cooperation, the target of vaccinating 80% of the population is achievable.
PROFESSOR M. RAVICHANDRAN
Dean of the Faculty of Applied Sciences
Chairman of Covid-19 Task Force
AIMST University Malaysia