Around 10% population to be fully vaccinated by mid-July

Roughly 10.7m doses must be administered taking into consideration the vaccine supply and PPVs capacity

by HARIZAH KAMEL / pic by TMR FILE

THE government aims to vaccinate 3.2 million people or 10% of the population by the middle of July.

National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar said presently, for every 100 doses administered, 30 doses are the second dose.

“So, in order to fully immunise 10% of the population, roughly 10.7 million doses must be administered taking into consideration the vaccine supply and the vaccine centres’ (PPVs) capacity.

“If we can administer eight million doses this month, we will reach 10.7 million in mid-July, so we need to ramp up our daily capacity,” he said at the weekly Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) joint press conference with Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba yesterday.

Khairy, who is also the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, firmly told the media that Malaysia’s vaccination rate should not be compared to European Union (EU) countries like Hungary.

Regionally, Malaysia is far ahead of neighbouring countries like Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam, he said.

He explained that Malaysia’s vaccination rate depends on the supply of the vaccines, as with other Asian countries, including the much-developed Japan, and Asian countries are at a disadvantage against the EU’s purchasing power as it negotiates with vaccine suppliers in bulk and many factories producing vaccines are located in Europe.

“They (European countries) have hoarded the vaccines earlier while countries in Asia including Japan are still lagging,” he said.

The predicament of global vaccine inequality was also the reason for Malaysia not operating mega vaccination centres (PPVs) initially.

“It is not that we could not open PPVs like the Bukit Jalil Stadium. We did not do it before because our vaccine supply was not enough and we would be wasting money,” said Khairy.

From June 21 to 30, a total of 757,747 scheduled vaccine appointments were given nationwide, of which, 253,719 were aged 60 and over; 228,397 individuals aged 50 to 59; 83,610 individuals between 40 and 49 years old; and the rest are 18 to 39 years old.

A total of 4,211,423 individuals were given their first dose, while 1.6 million people have completed two doses.

Khairy said the CITF has approved 5,621 applications from students who plan to continue their studies abroad and need to get their vaccinations immediately for that purpose.

The CITF has also received 98,166 vaccination applications from pregnant women and these are being issued in stages according to the expected date of delivery.

Last weekend, a total of 3,000 appointments were conducted in Kuala Lumpur and 224 in Perlis.

On the vaccine supply delivery, 444,600 doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be shipped this week, 760,880 Sinovac doses have been distributed yesterday and 828,000 AstraZeneca doses have been received so far.

To date, a total of 782 health facilities involving private medical practitioners have been operating as PPVs as early as May 3. All these facilities provide 93,358 injections per day.

Meanwhile, Dr Adham said Malaysia is developing a vaccine to protect against Covid-19 using the messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) technology.

The Malaysian Institute for Medical Research started developing it with Universiti Putra Malaysia in November 2020.

“The original SARS-CoV-2 virus and variants are now in the cloning stage,” he said about the current status of vaccine development.

He added that the process includes testing in small and big animals (pre-clinical stage), then three phases of clinical trials in humans, before the vaccine can be registered and mass produced.

Dr Adham said genomic surveillance efforts have now identified 183 Covid-19 variants, with 167 being variants of concern (VOCs) and 16 variants of interest (VOIs).

“Surveillance will continue for the next three months,” he said.