PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will not be mixing Covid-19 vaccine doses for the time being as the government feels the existing data on this is still “inconclusive”.
The coordinating minister of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, Khairy Jamaluddin, said that for now, vaccine recipients in Malaysia will receive the same vaccine brand for both doses.
“Although the expert technical working group has presented real-world data on the mixing of vaccines to JKJAV (Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee), we are still studying it.
“It is still inconclusive for us to decide whether to mix vaccines in Malaysia. We will continue to study it until a conclusive decision can be made.
“For now, you will be given the same vaccine as the first dose. If you had AstraZeneca in the first dose, your second one will also be AstraZeneca,” said Khairy, at the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) joint press conference with Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.
Studies in Europe have found that using different brands for first and second doses of Covid-19 vaccines appear to produce better immunity.
Khairy also said the government will announce a new dosing interval, which will apply to all recipients of the AstraZeneca vaccine today.
Currently, the recommended duration between the first and second AstraZeneca jabs is 12 weeks.
The first batch of AstraZeneca vaccine recipients in Malaysia started receiving their jabs in early May.
On another matter, Khairy said some 400 parliament staff and officials started receiving vaccination appointments yesterday, in anticipation of the reopening of the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara sitting.
He said this included cleaners, food catering workers and aides of MPs.
“This will ensure that every single person assigned for parliamentary sessions will all be fully vaccinated,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Adham said the 1,800 fully vaccinated healthcare workers who were infected with Covid-19 only reported mild symptoms.
“Only one person reached stage four (needing oxygen) and no one reached stage five (requiring ICU treatment),” said Dr Adham.
He added that this proves that the vaccine protects a person from severe infection and hospitalisation.
On a question about the rising infectivity rate (R0) despite the lockdown, Dr Adham said this is due to the transmission of new variants in the community.
He added that a total of 17,651,154 Covid-19 tests have been conducted to date with a positivity rate of 5.6%.
“The 5.6% positivity rate that we have achieved lately is because we have conducted more targeted mass testing as well as the mass testing conducted by the respective states,” he said.
On the Hotspots Identification for Dynamic Engagement (HIDE) system, Dr Adham said the Health Ministry’s Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) continues to release data every day to identify potential Covid-19 outbreaks.
He said quick action is taken on whether to conduct contact tracing, isolate, treat or to give advice to the facilities where there are Covid-19 clusters.
“We give them advice or instructions to sanitise the facility before they can resume their operations. This is to avoid any new clusters from happening,” he said.