Not enough data to mix vaccines for now, says Khairy

Those who received AstraZeneca for their 1st dose would be receiving the same for their 2nd dose, says minister


MALAYSIA will not be mixing Covid-19 vaccines for now.

National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP) coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin (picture) said despite early global data on heterologous vaccinations, the government has still not made any decision on the mixing of vaccines.

He said those who received AstraZeneca for their first dose would be receiving the same for their second dose.

“Although the expert technical group has presented to the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee on heterologous vaccination or mixing vaccines, we think it is still inconclusive to make a decision to do it here in Malaysia.

“We will continue to study it and will announce once a decision can be made, but for now, your second dose will be the same as your first dose,” he said during a press conference on the NCIP development with Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba yesterday.

Khairy said this in response to the rumours that those who received the AstraZeneca vaccine during the opt-in programme would be receiving the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine for their second dose.

This is also followed by claims from many studies that different vaccines could be mixed for boosted efficacy.

Khairy assured that all the vaccines administered in Malaysia, namely Pfizer, Sinovac and AstraZeneca, are effective against the Delta variant.

He also urged the public to take whatever vaccine that has been given to them as they can all protect against the variants of concerns (VOCs).

Additionally, he said a new interval between doses for all AstraZeneca recipients will be announced today.

Speaking on the reports of the Pfizer vaccine triggering rare heart inflammations, Khairy said its side effects are still being monitored in Malaysia and the matter would not change the government’s procurement plans for more Pfizer vaccines.

However, he said it could affect the rollout of the vaccine for school students and further discussions will be made with Education Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin.

Khairy said the police will set up a special team to work with the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) to investigate allegations of illegal vaccine sales and appointments.

Khairy also announced that the vaccination process for more than 400 parliamentary staff and officials had begun yesterday at several vaccination centres (PPVs) around the capital. This was to prepare for the reopening of the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara sessions soon.

Khairy said the vaccination process will also be extended to Parliament staff and workers under the cleaning and catering department, as well as those accompanying MPs.

Additionally, Khairy said Malaysia will receive one million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines donated by Japan today and another one million doses of Pfizer vaccines donated by the US tomorrow.

He welcomed the contribution which symbolises the concern and trust of both countries towards Malaysia and in support of the global immunisation programme.

“This supply can intensify NCIP and help Malaysia achieve the threshold value outlined in the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

“All vaccines obtained will be distributed immediately to all facilities and PPVs for the NCIP,” he added.

Khairy also noted that several mega PPVs will increase injection rates today as second dose vaccinations are underway.

For example, the KLCC PPV’s capacity will be increases to 8,000 injections per day and the Setia City PPV will go up to 6,000 injections per day.

“All the facilities involved are prepared to accommodate higher vaccination rates to ensure smooth operations and to avoid congestion,” he said.

Separately, Dr Adham said the Health Ministry (MoH) will use smart devices and oxygen rate measuring devices, namely pulse oximetres, to increase efficiency in monitoring patients at all Covid-19 Assessment Centres (CACs).

The initiative is aimed at strengthening digitisation in the management of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On another note, Dr Adham said the MoH is optimising strategies to manage patients with mental health issues.

“Since the end of last year until now, 200 psychology officers have been appointed and this will continue until 2022 to advocate mental health to the community,” he noted.

Separately, in light of the rising suicide cases, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has called for a revival of the National Suicide Registry Malaysia, which was initiated in 2007 to give the public access to data on suicides in the country.

In a statement yesterday, Suhakam said data that includes age, gender, ethnicity, state and the manner in which the suicide is carried out will facilitate the development of effective policies and longterm solutions in preventing suicides in the society.

“In the interest of reducing socio-economic pressures on the society during the pandemic, Suhakam calls for expedient vaccination rollout, expansion of voluntary testing and early detection, and targeted Movement Control Orders.

“This will allow for more sectors to regain access to work and livelihoods, resumption of schools and return to some normalcy in their lives, and possibly to a reduction in the incidence of suicides,” it added.