No vaccine wastage in Malaysia – Minister

PUTRAJAYA — There has been no wastage of the COVID-19 vaccine in Malaysia, said Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

Speaking on vaccine inequity, he said Malaysia currently uses COVID-19 vaccine stocks that are available in the country just to make sure more people are vaccinated.

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“That is why we have not announced (COVID-19) vaccine third doses for everyone, I think it would be not fair to announce it when there are countries who have not even given the first dose,” said Khairy in a press conference on COVID-19 here today.

He said in case the ministry wants to defer the delivery of vaccine supplies, vaccine manufacturers contracted to the Health Ministry (MOH) will be informed so that they can send them to other countries first.

Separately, Khairy said the national panel of medical and health experts was developing guidelines for the implementation of the third dose vaccine shots as announced earlier, to be given once 80 per cent of adults in the country are vaccinated.

He said details on the matter would be presented at the next meeting of the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee (JKJAV).

Priority for the COVID-19 third dose will first focus on high-risk groups such as health frontliners, immunocompromised patients, elderly with comorbidities and individuals living or working in long-term care facilities.

The third dose can increase the immunity levels of individuals at high risk for COVID-19 infection, he said.

Meanwhile, a booster shot is given to all individuals to increase immunity levels which may have decreased after the second dose.

On discrimination against certain types of vaccines in some countries, Khairy urged the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to make a fair and just ruling on the matter as all vaccine production has been WHO approved.

“I was informed there are some countries that stipulate that only individuals who receive certain types of vaccines will be exempted from COVID-19 detection tests before departure, undergoing quarantine upon arrival and so on.

“Such things should not happen because it is important for us to understand that vaccines protect individuals from the risk of getting more serious infections and reduce symptoms of the disease,” he said.

Khairy said a decision on whether flexibility is given to travelers from abroad must be made based on disease control and prevention as well as public health measures in the country and not based on the type of vaccine.

“This will defeat the purpose of having the vaccine and administering them to the population. Discriminating the type of vaccine will only discourage innovation in manufacturing vaccines,” he said.