Khairy: Vaccination rates to plateau

Minister says after September-October, the task force will start looking for people who have not registered to be vaccinated


MALAYSIA’S Covid-19 vaccination rate might plateau once all registrants have completed their doses, National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP) Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar (picture) said.

“I forecast that after September-October, we will have a different problem on our hands which is vaccination rates may plateau as we finish vaccinating everyone who has registered.

“We will have to start looking for people who have not registered to vaccinate,” he said during the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force press conference recently.

When asked if he believed that herd immunity can be achieved before the end of the year as sufficient doses are expected to arrive early, Khairy said it depends on various factors.

“In terms of the supply, I am confident that we can cover as many people as possible before the end of the year.

“The two caveats that I put forward whether or not we can achieve herd immunity really depends on how this virus continues to mutate and secondly, whether we can get people who have not registered to come forward to receive the vaccines,” he said.

Commenting on the production of the vaccines, the minister affirmed that Pharmaniaga Bhd has no problems with production which is progressing as planned.

He was confident that Pharmaniaga will be able to meet its contractual obligation in terms of the quantity as well as the delivery timeline.

He said Pharmaniaga is bringing in additional finished products on its own initiative to help the government in expediting the NCIP which can address the need to ramp up the vaccination process in June.

At the moment, the capacity of Pharmaniaga’s fill and finish is 500,000 doses a week.

Khairy explained that the period of February to May was chosen for the distribution of the fill-and-finish products due to the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency’s (NPRA) need to undertake product process validation and stability testing that was used for the final approval.

The process took about 10 weeks to complete where it had to pass multiple tests, submissions of data and reports that were required by the NPRA.

He proceeded to address the question that has been circulating on WhatsApp and media platforms about the quality of the fill-and-finish products that Pharmaniaga is manufacturing.

“I would like to completely deny and also completely refute the claim that the fill-and-finish products by Pharmaniaga are of inferior quality to the finished products that come in from the Sinovac factory in Beijing, China.

“This allegation is most irresponsible and if we find out who has been spreading this allegation, we will ensure the full force of the law would come down on that person,” he pressed.

He also clarified the dosing intervals of the vaccines, which are currently 12 weeks for AstraZeneca and three weeks for Pfizer.

Khairy revealed that there has been a suggestion to increase the dosing interval to ensure that more people have some degree of protection rather than a smaller number of people having complete protection.

“This matter will be discussed at the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee meeting today as it involves clinical advice for the NCIP,” he said.