In a race towards herd immunity

by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

MALAYSIA will step up all efforts to improve existing public health measures and continue to vaccinate the public, in order to achieve the worldwide herd immunity against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Health DG Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (picture) said as the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) principle states, no country is safe from the virus until every country is safe.

“We will use a similar concept. That is why we are intensifying our vaccination efforts to inoculate Malaysians above 18 years old and we are also utilising six targeted approaches in our public health efforts.

“The WHO has stated that it would not be realistic to think that we would be able to entirely eradicate Covid-19 globally, therefore, it is important to look into our public health measures and vaccination to achieve global herd immunity,” he said in his Covid-19 press conference yesterday.

Dr Noor Hisham noted that the six targeted approaches include monitoring existing capacity of public health facilities, border control, empowering the public to adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs), protecting high-risk groups, intensifying screenings of individuals and communication with the public on prescribed SOPs.

Dr Noor Hisham said the Ministry of Health (MoH) has given conditional approval for three more Covid-19 vaccines for use during the pandemic.

The three vaccines are AstraZeneca plc solution for injection, manufactured by MedImmune Pharma BV Netherland; CoronaVac suspension for injection by Sinovac Life Sciences Co Ltd; and Comirnaty concentrate for dispersion for injection by Pfizer Inc.

He added that the conditional approval requires registration to submit the additional and up-to-date data analysis which is to be evaluated by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).

“It is to ensure the effectiveness and safety of the vaccine is constantly updated and the benefit-risk comparison of the vaccine remains positive.

“Currently, NPRA is still evaluating two more Covid-19 vaccines, namely Gam-Covid-Vac or Sputnik V (produced by Gamaleya National Research Centre for Epidemiology and Microbiology, Russia) and CoronaVac suspension for injection by Sinovac Life Sciences,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said his team would always improve the level of public health in combating the Covid-19 pandemic through the procurement of vaccine supply, which had been evaluated from various aspects including quality, safety and effectiveness by NPRA and approved by the Drug Control Authority.

“The government is also committed to ensuring that Malaysian adults achieve herd immunity, which is in line with the targets of the National Covid-19 Vaccine Immunisation Programme,” he said

The country reported 1,555 new Covid-19 positive cases yesterday, 1,552 of which were local transmissions, while three were import cases.

Selangor recorded the highest daily cases yesterday with 672 cases, followed by Johor (163) and Sarawak (159).

Other states which recorded new cases include Kuala Lumpur with 145 cases, Negri Sembilan (115), Penang (106), Perak (63), Sabah (53) and Kelantan (46). Kedah and Melaka recorded 11 cases respectively, followed by Terengganu (seven), Pahang (three) and Putrajaya (one).

The DG also said seven new Covid-19 clusters were detected as of noon yesterday, of which six of them were linked to workplaces and one involving high-risk group clusters.

The increase in the new cases yesterday brought the country’s overall total to 304,135.

A total of 2,528 patients were discharged, increasing the recovered cases in the country to 278,431 or 91.5% of total cases.

Six deaths were reported yesterday, increasing the overall Covid-19 death toll to 1,141.