Malaysia Bagus News
Malaysia Bagus News
PETALING JAYA: A health expert has voiced doubt that all Malaysians will be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the end of next year although many brands of the vaccine may be available.
Dr Tharani Loganathan, a public health specialist at Universiti Malaya, described the vaccine as a precious commodity and said the government may need to first attend to high-risk groups such as frontliners or high-risk individuals with co-morbidities and also the elderly.
“The definitions of who is a frontliner and who is at risk of severe Covid-19 infection must thus be clearly spelt out,” she told reporters.
“The allocation of vaccines must be fair and transparent. The government must have clear eligibility criteria to ensure the vaccines reach target groups without leakage or wastage.”
Tharani said the vaccination programme would be expensive and added that any cost analysis would have to consider the socio-economic costs of the pandemic such as job loss and loss of schooling and also the costs to the health system.
She suggested that the vaccine be included in the National Immunisation Programme and made available to all citizens.
But she also called for the vaccination of foreign workers and refugees, saying they were at high risk of infection.
Delays in vaccinating them would cause delays in achieving herd immunity, she said. “If they are not vaccinated, they will remain as a reservoir of the virus in our country.”
Tharani said employers should bear the responsibility of vaccinating foreign workers under their employment once the vaccine was available for purchase in the private sector.
“Vaccination certificates should be mandatory before they return to work,” she said.
It is not known when the vaccine will be made available in the private sector. The world is still in a race to develop a safe and effective vaccine, and Tharani said manufacturing and distributing it to the entire global population will be a great challenge.
She warned that there would be difficulties in achieving herd immunity because many migrants in the country are undocumented.
She suggested that the government offer them amnesty as long as the pandemic remained.
“Also, the government should offer a pathway towards regularisation of undocumented migrants, allowing them to obtain temporary work permits, visas and health insurance.
“Giving an option for non-citizens to purchase health insurance will enable them to contribute towards financing their vaccination.”
Malaysia has signed a preliminary purchasing agreement with Pfizer to buy 12.8 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine. This will cover 20% of Malaysia’s population or 6.4 million Malaysians.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has said regulatory clearance from the US Food and Drug Administration and Malaysia’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency will be required before Pfizer’s vaccine can be used here.
Doses will be spread out throughout next year. It was reported that Pfizer will be delivering one million doses by the first quarter of 2021. This will be followed in subsequent quarters with 1.7 million, 5.8 million and 4.3 million doses.
Malaysia has also signed an agreement with the Covax facility, whose vaccine will cover another 10% of Malaysia’s population.
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