Khairy: IMR Studying Immune Response From Covid-19 Vaccination

The vaccine minister does not recommend doing antibody tests to evaluate protection from Covid-19 vaccination, as there are currently no standards for suitable tests.

KUALA LUMPUR, August 16 — The Institute of Medical Research (IMR) under the Ministry of Health (MOH) is currently conducting a study on immune response from Covid-19 vaccination, according to Khairy Jamaluddin.

The vaccine minister, in a seven-minute video posted Sunday, advised against taking Covid-19 antibody tests to evaluate one’s protection from vaccination, as no clinical guidelines have been issued on the matter. He said interim results of the study will be published once they are available.

“Similar to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US, we do not recommend doing an antibody test after receiving the Covid-19 vaccine because there are currently no standards for what kind of test is suitable.”

Khairy previously told Parliament that the government has allocated RM15 million for an antibody immuno-surveillance programme under the MOH’s Institute for Clinical Research Malaysia. 

He said the study is important to monitor the level of antibodies and neutralising antibodies among vaccine recipients in Malaysia.

Khairy, who is the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) coordinating minister, said Malaysia’s average daily vaccination rate for July stood at about 400,000 doses, making the country among the top three fastest countries globally for daily vaccinations per capita.

In July alone, a total of 12 million Covid-19 vaccine doses were administered, more than the cumulative 8 million doses from February until June.

“This shows us what we have always known. What was holding us back was not the lack of capacity, resources, or competency, but rather not having a consistent supply of vaccines due to global vaccine inequity and the hoarding of vaccines by certain countries which has been condemned by the World Health Organization (WHO),” Khairy said.

Operation Surge Capacity in the Klang Valley, which took place throughout July, succeeded in administering 235,000 doses on average daily. 

“We hope to see the inflection point for hospitalisation and deaths in the Klang Valley in the next few weeks as people get their second doses,” he said, citing Labuan and Sarawak as examples where high vaccination rates have resulted in a decline in hospital admissions, intensive care unit (ICU) cases, and deaths.

The country’s target for August is for 40 per cent of every state’s adult population to be fully vaccinated. At the national level, this will be 50 per cent of Malaysia’s adult population.

PICK is also looking to vaccinate children aged between 12 and 17 in the coming month, while it ramps up vaccination for foreign workers, migrants and the refugee community. People in prisons and detention centres will also be inoculated in the coming weeks, Khairy said.

He said the country will need to work hard to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as possible so that the economy can open, the people can recover, and the nation can heal.

“I will not stop until every adult is fully vaccinated by the end of October. That has been my promise to you. I hope I can see this through.”

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