The Malaysian Health Coalition supports all moves to expedite the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK). A speedy vaccination programme is important to our pandemic strategy.
We further urge the following:
1. Accelerate National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) Vaccine Approvals
We appreciate that the NPRA has implemented a fast-track conditional registration of Covid-19 vaccines beginning December 2020. Now, the NPRA must quickly complete the review process for vaccines already procured by the government but pending NPRA approval (namely CanSinoBio, Gamaleya and the AstraZeneca batches manufactured in Thailand).
The NPRA should aim to approve the vaccines in the shortest time possible without compromising thoroughness. Approval of single-dose vaccines like CanSinoBio will ease the vaccination of deeply rural communities, refugees and undocumented migrants.
The government must also support NPRA to develop an accelerated pathway for Covid-19 vaccine variant applications in response to new variants; this process is similar to the approvals for seasonal variations of the annual flu vaccine.
2. Mobilise Resources To Ramp Up Vaccination
We congratulate the government for passing the benchmark of 100,000 daily doses on May 27, and for including 500 private general practitioner (GP) clinics to administer vaccines before June 15.
To achieve herd immunity quickly, we need a vaccination rate of 250,000-300,000 doses daily. Federal-state and public-private collaboration must be strengthened to mobilise all available resources.
Human capital can be expanded by mobilising the 1.6 million civil servants from other ministries, NGOs, volunteers, health care graduates, students and retirees. The government must rapidly increase vaccine administration centres of all sizes (not just mega-vaccination centres).
The government must utilise its existing primary care network, school health immunisation teams and relevant agencies (like Jabatan Kemajuan Orang Asli, Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat and Jabatan Penerangan) to register and vaccinate rural communities.
3. Vaccinate Imaginatively And Equitably
The National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme is a historic public health programme without precedent, and we need a new manual of how to vaccinate an entire population quickly, safely and effectively. We can learn lessons from countries like Chile, Germany, Seychelles and the United Kingdom, which have all vaccinated more than half their populations.
Therefore, we support drive-through vaccinations, mobile vaccination trucks and other reasonable innovations. Additionally, the government must expand on-site vaccination programme to reach vulnerable populations, like the homeless and the deep rural populations of Malaysia.
We urge the government to help stay-alone senior citizens, people with disabilities and B40 communities to get vaccinated by providing logistics assistance like transport.
The expected increase in Covid-19 vaccine supplies and vaccination centres from June onwards is a hopeful sign towards herd immunity. Now is the time for an all-of-society effort to achieve an important national objective.
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