KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 — The Malaysian government has decided to expedite the second dose of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine to nine weeks after the first, amid the spread of the Delta variant in the country.
Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the decision to shorten the AstraZeneca dosing interval from 12 to nine weeks was made based on recommendation by the Covid-19 vaccine expert technical working group and after the Japanese government contributed a million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine that arrived in Malaysia today.
“Those who participated in the first round of AZ will be notified of their 2nd appt soon,” Khairy tweeted today.
The first round of the initial opt-in stream of AstraZeneca gave vaccination appointments to 268,600 participants from May 5 onwards.
This means the earliest appointments for second jabs should be scheduled as soon as next week from July 7.
“The expert evaluation by the Special Committee on Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV), in which the Ministry of Health also participated in, found that this new interval can still retain the same maximum efficacy for appropriate protection of vaccine recipients.
“For the record, this newly decided dosing interval between the first and second AstraZeneca doses is still in line with guidelines from AstraZeneca that recommend a four to 12-week interval,” said the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) in a statement today.
Khairy yesterday said those who received the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for their first dose would get their second shot of the same vaccine, as the scientists advising CITF have yet to conclude on whether Malaysia should mix coronavirus vaccines.
A recent UK study found a mixed two-dose schedule of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines — based on four weeks’ interval between doses — can produce a better immune response than two doses of AstraZeneca.
Real-world data by Public Health England (PHE) published last June 14 shows that after two doses, the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine are 92 per cent and 96 per cent effective respectively against hospitalisation caused by the Delta variant.
A previous PHE study published last May 22 found that the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccine were 60 per cent and 88 per cent effective respectively against symptomatic disease from the Delta variant after two doses, but just 33 per cent effective three weeks after the first dose.