by HARIZAH KAMEL / Pic by AFP
THE Pakatan Harapan (PH) Health Committee has called for the federal government to set a clear criteria and implementation strategy to ensure smooth rollout of Covid-19 third or booster dose which is expected to be given to 8.75 million people.
In a statement today, it said the rollout needs to be properly planned, specific and well-coordinated among all stakeholders including the private general practitioners (GPs) who are tasked to handle booster shots for frontliners and senior citizens.
“However, we read with concern the official statement from the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) that there has not been any proper engagement and even silence from the state health departments on the programme for the booster shots.
“This should not be the case as lessons should have been learnt from past mistakes including involving the private GPs only at the very last minute,” it said.
The committee urged the Health Ministry (MoH) for, among others, a clear timeline for implementation across the country; a clear definition and categories of those eligible for the third dose and booster shots; strategic efforts to educate those eligible on importance of the booster dose; engage private GPs as soon as possible and speed this booster dose programme; and approving heterologous vaccination with the booster doses at the soonest based on real world data from across the world.
“We take the stand that MoH and the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) should approve as soon as possible heterologous vaccination with the booster,” it added.
The committee said clinical development shows promising results including studies that have been carried out in Germany, Spain, Taiwan, Sweden, and the UK on the “Effects of
Heterologous Immunization with Prime-Boost COVID-19 Vaccination against SARS-CoV-2”.
The positive results include increased levels of neutralising antibodies in comparison to homologous vaccination.
The committee said it supports the government’s decision to roll out Covid-19 third doses and booster shots to eligible recipients especially those who are immunocompromised, elderly with comorbidities, health care staff and high-risk front liners.
This is in view of significant breakthrough cases due to reduction of neutralising antibodies with time, immunosuppressed individuals who did not mount a sufficient immune response with two vaccine doses, and certain people whose jobs expose them to large viral loads that overwhelm their immunity.
About 55.6% or 76,186 of 137,109 new Covid-19 cases reported in Malaysia from Sept 28 to Oct 11 were fully vaccinated.
Fully vaccinated proportion of daily Covid-19 cases increased from 51% on Sept 28 to 60% on Oct 11.
Based on states, 77% of 23,864 cases in Sarawak from Sept 28 to Oct 11 were fully vaccinated.
Breakthrough cases make out more than 50% of the cases in Labuan, Kuala Lumpur, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, Putrajaya, Perlis and Penang.
The majority of breakthrough infections would be among senior citizens aged above 60, mainly due to waning immunity, immunosuppression, and underlying health conditions.