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Covid-19: The government must set a clear and comprehensive strategy for third and booster vaccine doses

Media statement by Pakatan Harapan Health Committee on 18 October 2021:

 

Booster Dose

 

The Pakatan Harapan Health Committee supports the Federal Government’s decision to roll out Covid-19 third doses and booster shots to eligible recipients especially recipients 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 per cent, or 76,186 of 137,109 new Covid-19 cases reported in Malaysia from September 28 to October 11 were fully vaccinated. Fully vaccinated proportion of daily Covid-19 cases increased from 51% on Sept 28 to 60% on Oct 11. 77% of 23,864 Covid-19 cases in Sarawak from September 28 – October 11th were fully vaccinated. Breakthrough cases make out more than 50% of the cases in Labuan, Kuala Lumpur, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, Putrajaya, Perlis and Penang.

Majority of breakthrough infections would be among senior citizens aged above 60, mainly due to waning immunity, immunosuppression, and underlying health conditions.

 

That is why the Federal Government must set clear criteria and implementation strategy to ensure smooth rollout especially when we are expecting up to 8.75 million people who will receive the third or booster dose.

 
For illustration purposes only.
 

Hence 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) stating that there has not been any proper engagement and even silence from the state health departments on the programme for the 3rd dose and booster shots.

 
The Malaysian Reserve article screenshot on MMA’s statement.
 

This should not be the case as lessons should have been learnt from the past mistakes including involving the private GPs only at the very last minute.

That is why we call on the Ministry of Health to clearly define their strategy including :

 
  1. A clear timeline for implementation across the country.
  2. A clear definition and categories of those eligible for the 3rd dose and booster shots.
  3. Strategic efforts to educate those eligible on importance of the additional dose and to ensure all of them are not left out of this rollout.
  4. Engage the private GPs as soon as possible and set out a clear rollout strategy to ensure efficiency and speed in this planned third dose and booster vaccination Programme.
  5. Approving heterologous vaccination with the booster doses as soon as possible, based on real world data from across the world.
 

We take the stand that the Ministry of Health and the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) should approve as soon as possible heterologous vaccination with the booster.

 

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” and they have shown positive results including increased levels of neutralizing antibodies in comparison to homologous vaccination. Moreover, a heterologous prime-boost regimen with an adenovirus vector vaccine also improved Th1-biased T cell responses.

With that, we reiterate our call for a clear and comprehensive strategy based on science and data to give greater protection and help induce greater immunity response to protect our high-risk groups especially in view of their waning neutralising antibodies with time.

 

‘RESTORING OUR COUNTRY, RESTORING DEMOCRACY’

 

Members of Pakatan Harapan Health Committee:

 
  • YB Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (MP for Kuala Selangor, AMANAH)
  • YB Dr Lee Boon Chye (MP for Gopeng, KEADILAN)
  • YB Dr Ong Kian Ming (MP for Bangi, DAP)
  • YB Datuk Wira Dr Mohd Hatta Md Ramli (MP for Lumut, AMANAH)
  • YB Dr Kelvin Yii (MP for Bandar Kuching, DAP)
  • YB Sim Tze Tzin (MP for Bayan Baru, KEADILAN)
  • YB Alice Lau (MP for Lanang, DAP)
  • YB Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud (Exco for the State of Selangor)
  • YB Dr Norlela Ariffin (Exco for the State of Penang)
  • YB Veerapan Supramaniam (Exco for the State of Negeri Sembilan)
  • Ybhg Dr Hafidzah Mustakim (AWAN, AMANAH)
  • Ybhg Dr Zaliha Mustafa (MPP, KEADILAN)
 

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