Malaysia is not late in the acquisition of Covid-19 vaccine, experts from the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) said. - AFP file pic, for illustration purposes only
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is not late in the acquisition of Covid-19 vaccine, experts from the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) said.
Although the first batch of the Covid-19 vaccines will arrive next month despite being the first country in Southeast Asia to announce the deal for the vaccine developed by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer in cooperation with German company BioNTech, they said the time frame allowed Malaysia leverage on the data from the countries that have rolled out their vaccination plans.
Dr Leow Chiuan Yee said this would subsequently ensure people in the country receive the best options available related to the vaccine for the virus.
The government, said Dr Leow of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), could not simply take any challenge and introduce vaccine to the locals irrespective of the safety, efficacy and quality of the vaccine.
"The aim of the plan (Covid-19 Immunisation Plan) is to ensure that the highly exposed and vulnerable categories are given the vaccination is the top priority.
"This is a great strategy given transmission rate of the contagious virus is remarkably much higher in the above population as well as the higher transmission probability poor immunity especially in individuals with chronic conditions.
"In contrast, normal adults are built with stronger and a more balanced immunity. The transmission of the contagious virus could be more challenging among the normal adults.
"They (the normal adult) will still need to receive the designated vaccine to reach 80 per cent herd immunity," said the senior lecturer at USM's School of Pharmaceutical Sciences.
Citing the effective approach in the elimination of smallpox and polio infections in the country in the last century, Dr Leow stressed that the rate of transmission within the entire population in the country must be reduced to the controllable threshold according to severity condition in order for Malaysia to successfully contain the disease.
"And comparing Malaysia to other nations is an apple and orange situation. Some countries, like Greece joined in a bulk purchase approach and were able to receive their supply of the vaccine last year.
"Japan placed their order for the Pfizer vaccine after us and will receive it next month. Hence, there is no race and Malaysia is not late," he said.
Professor Dr Shamala Devi KC Sekaran concurred with Dr Leow when she said there are other countries which would only be receiving their supply of Covid-19 vaccines a month or two after the vaccine reaches Malaysia's shores.
"We can use this time to evaluate the efficacy and safety of the vaccines by analysing data from countries that have administered the vaccine to their respective citizens.
"Malaysia's National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) will be able to make an informed decision about the viability of the vaccines and ensure that Malaysians can get the best option," she said.
Dr Shamala said the national vaccination plan, which was formulated by the Special Covid-19 Vaccine Committee (JKJAV), was a balanced one and has a reasonable timeline.
"Despite concerns from many about the timeline, it is not late," she said.