The Borneo Post (Sabah)
S'wak to stick with Pfizer-BioNTech for now
KUCHING: Sarawak will continue to use the PfizerBioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for its State Covid-19 Vaccination Programme for now, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
He said the use of other vaccines such as Sinovac from China would only be considered should Malaysia’s regulatory bodies approve their use.
“At the moment we just use the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. However if the regulatory bodies say the other vaccines can also be used, then we will look into it, and may consider using the other vaccines.
“It is however subject to the decision of the regulatory bodies,” he told a press conference yesterday after launching the Sarawak Covid-19 Vaccination Programme Phase I at Stadium Perpaduan, Petra Jaya.
Abang Johari was responding to reports claiming Sinovac’s efficacy dropped to about 50 per cent compared to the PfizerBioNTech vaccine, which is supposed to have an efficacy rate of over 90 per cent even after just the first dose, according to the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme handbook.
The Chief Minister assured that regulatory bodies, especially the Health Ministry with its experts, would know what is best for the health of Malaysians, with the aim to break the Covid19 chain of infection.
“If they (regulatory bodies) say the other vaccines can be used, then we may use them. If not, then we don’t use them. We leave it to the experts,” he reiterated.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) had previously set up a ‘Covid-19 Vaccine Adversary Group’ to look into matters regarding Covid-19 vaccines in the state.
Led by former state health director Datu Prof Dr Andrew Kiyu, the group consists of 11 scientists and experts in the medical field tasked to also advise the state government on matters relating to vaccines.
Abang Johari added while Sarawak is implementing its own vaccination programme, the state government is also looking at the implementation of similar programmes in other parts of the world.
He said as far as the PfizerBioNTech vaccine is concerned, the state government was given to understand that it has been cleared for use across North America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, and vaccination campaigns have begun in at least 99 countries, including Malaysia.
“For the record, since yesterday, more than 218 million doses of the vaccine had been administered across the 99 countries.
“Reports in the United States of America say the vaccination had reduced the overall attack rate to 4.6 per cent from 9 per cent without the vaccination, over 300 days.
“The results indicate that vaccination can have a substantial impact in mitigating Covid-19 outbreak, even with limited protection against infection,” he said.
However, Abang Johari stressed, continued compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as wearing face masks and personal hygiene, are still essential to achieve the impact. He said in the United Kingdom, new data by Public Health England showed that the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine provided high levels of protection against infection and symptomatic diseases.
“I would like to stress here — the vaccine is not a cure but a protection against potential infection that should help to break the chain of transmission of the coronavirus,” Abang Johari said.