GE15 Can Be Held Before Herd Immunity Achieved: Khairy

Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin says the most likely scenario today is that Covid-19 ends up as an endemic disease and people have to take booster shots of the vaccine.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 7 — The 15th general election can be held even before Malaysia achieves herd immunity from mass Covid-19 vaccination, Khairy Jamaluddin said today. 

Speaking at a panel discussion today on Covid-19 vaccine rollouts and the recovery of the ASEAN economy, organised by think tank CARI ASEAN Research and Advocacy and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, Khairy said that it’s impossible to consider that elections can only be held safely once daily Covid-19 cases drop to zero.

“I don’t think we need to reach herd immunity to be comfortable to have elections,” Khairy said.

“I think as long as the case number drops, a lot of people are vaccinated, so, even if it’s not cutting transmission, if we are not at herd immunity, the worst outcomes of Covid-19 are prevented for a large number of people, then I think we will be safe to have elections,” the vaccine minister added.

The government intends to vaccinate 80 per cent of the population by this December, an ambitious target amid currently slow vaccine registrations and sluggish deliveries from manufacturers, to achieve herd immunity. 

However, Khairy said that with the emergence of new variants of Covid-19, the worst case scenario is that it becomes endemic, where the disease is permanently present in a region or population.

“The worst case scenario and the most likely scenario today is that Covid becomes endemic, it just stays with us and you end up having to take different vaccination or booster shots every year,” the science, technology, and innovation minister said. 

Malaysia’s third wave of Covid-19 started following Sabah’s state elections last September, when many people travelled in and out of Sabah to vote. The East Malaysian state with poor health infrastructure became the epicentre of the Covid-19 epidemic late last year and only managed to drive down daily infections to double digits after six months.

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