Do more to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19, says senior doctor

With just under eight million people signing up thus far for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, Malaysian authorities must work harder at getting the people’s acceptance of the plan and ensuring herd immunity is achieved.

At least 80 per cent of Malaysia’s population of 32 million will have to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity against the virus. The government had previously said it plans to achieve this by February next year.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said today only 7,906,913 people have registered so far. A total of 514,036 have received one dose of the vaccine while 287,737 have received both doses.

Khairy said Phase 2 for the elderly, those in high-risk groups and persons with disabilities will begin on April 19.

Senior consultant paediatrician Datuk Dr Amar Singh HSS said if the authorities do not vaccinate fast enough, the virus will mutate over time.

“Mutation is not happening that fast but it will happen. If we continue to vaccinate at this rate, it is likely we may have to change vaccines,” he said, adding this was why the vaccine rollout in countries like the UK and Israel is far ahead compared to others.

Israel has administered full vaccine doses to more than half of its population of nine million people while over 31 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Dr Amar said while some are not registering for vaccination due to literacy issues, especially in rural areas, there are others who remain unconvinced and are adopting the wait-and-see approach.

“I have severe allergies but I have also signed up as I believe it is an important solution although it may not be the end-all solution,” he said.

“There are people who are reading a mix of accurate and inaccurate reports regarding vaccination. It is important for the public to rely on and read authoritative websites like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or UK’s National Health Service.”

“If there are major doubts, see a doctor and discuss the matter,” said Dr Amar, the former head of the paediatric department at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh, Perak.

On calls by certain quarters to allow the public to choose which vaccine they want, Dr Amar said it may not be wise.

“Few countries have done so. Hong Kong has done it but it is not practised in the US, UK or Europe.

“Logistically, it will be very difficult. There may also be a cold chain problem,” he said.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine requires ultra-cold storage at -70 degrees Celsius to maintain the cold chain delivery for the vaccine to retain its potency when administered.

The AstraZeneca vaccine requires regular fridge temperature, Sinovac (2-8 degrees Celcius), Moderna (-20 degrees Celcius) and Sputnik V (regular fridge temperature, in dry form).

Malaysia’s Special Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Committee will meet tomorrow to study the clinical data on AstraZeneca and if it wants to defer use. This comes after reports abroad of people suffering blood clots after receiving the vaccine.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is scheduled to arrive next month and has conditional approval of the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency.

Here’s the round-up for The News Normal today.

EDUCATION MINISTER REMINDS STUDENTS AND TEACHERS TO FOLLOW SOPS

Education Minister Datuk Radzi Jihin has reminded students, teachers and school staff to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs).

Secondary students have returned to school – Group A consisting of students from Johor, Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah started yesterday and those from the remaining states today.

Pre-schoolers and Year 1 and 2 pupils returned to school on March 1 while those in Year 3-6 returned the following week.

MACC CRIPPLES SYNDICATE MONOPOLISING GOVT PROJECTS

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) believes it has crippled a syndicate monopolising government projects with the arrest of seven people, including the 47-year-old mastermind.

The syndicate is believed to have monopolised 345 contracts involving ministries and government agencies. The projects are said to be worth RM3.8 billion. It is thought they have been operating since 2014.

MACC chief commissioner Datuk Seri Azam Baki confirmed the arrests. He said the case is being investigated under Section 17 and 18 of the MACC Act 2009.

COURT OF APPEAL TURNS DOWN NAJIB BID TO ADJOURN APPEAL HEARING

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s bid to adjourn his appeal hearing was dismissed by the Court of Appeal today.

Najib’s lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah had requested a one-month adjournment to put in “additional evidence” in their submission.

A panel of three appellate court judges, chaired by Justice Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil, said the bench was unanimous in its decision that there was “no sufficient reason” to warrant an adjournment.

Other judges on the bench were Justices Datuk Has Zanah Mehat and Datuk Vazeer Alam Mydin Meera.

GUIDE KIDS THE RIGHT WAY, NOT TREAT THEM LIKE MINI-ADULTS, YOUTH COACH TELLS PARENTS

Do not treat a child as if he or she is a mini-adult. Never allow personal success to overshadow the educational objective. Some children take longer to develop than others.

These are just some of the pointers directed to parents in the book ‘Football Knowledge – Guideline Book for Players’ written by long-time youth football coach N. Rada Krishnan.