Vaccines are safe and effective, says DG

by HARIZAH KAMEL / Pic by BLOOMBERG

THE public should not have any reservation about taking any of the vaccines that Malaysia has secured from five different producers, as their efficacy and safety have been proven through clinical trials.

Health DG Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the public can be rest assured that the data on the vaccines have already been done with reference to the Phase 3 clinical trials which ensure the safety and extra efficacy data are already available.

“It’s the responsibility of the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) to approve every vaccine that is being imported into the country by making sure the vaccines already fulfilled all the requirements of efficacy and safety,” he said in a media briefing recently.

To date, the country has secured the Pfizer Inc-BioNTech SE vaccine, Sinovac’s CoronaVac, Oxford University-AstraZeneca plc, CanSino Biologics Inc’s Convidicea and Gamaleya’s Sputnik V.

Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry may look into the single-dose vaccine which would allow certain groups, such as foreign workers or those living in rural areas, to be vaccinated.

Meanwhile, the Sinovac vaccine is still in the process of NPRA evaluation.

Dr Noor Hisham said vaccination for Covid-19 is crucial as the two doses are important for one to reach the necessary protective level against the virus, adding that the ministry can take action against those who miss their appointment.

“We can take action. If we look at other countries, for example, if people cut the queue for vaccination, they can be fined and so on.

“We intend to use the carrot rather than the stick. We hope Malaysians can obey this by making sure they come for the appointment,” he asserted.

He said those who are about to be vaccinated will be given a reminder and asked for confirmation three to seven days earlier than their vaccination date to avoid a no-show, which will waste the resources and manpower that the ministry has prepared.

“If they are still not present on the day of the appointment, then we will see how we can use the vaccine for others on our waiting list,” he said.

Furthermore, Dr Noor Hisham said even if a state holds the green zone status, such as Perlis, the people there are still recommended to be vaccinated.

The northern state’s low number of cases and good recovery rate do not indicate that it has achieved herd immunity naturally.

Dr Noor Hisham said there are two ways to achieve herd immunity, namely through infection and vaccination.

“For Perlis to achieve herd immunity, around 70% to 80% of the people must be infected first.

“Our public health measures managed to curb infections in Perlis, but that does not mean they have achieved herd immunity. So, if the people of Perlis went to Kedah or Selangor for example, they may be prone to infection,” he added.


Read our previous report here

Travel restrictions to be eased once herd immunity is achieved: Health DG