KUALA LUMPUR, August 25 — Covid-19 vaccination rates in Malaysia have been declining since the start of this month amid reported vaccine supply problems, as the epidemic surges in several states.
Malaysia’s average daily vaccinations from July 21 to 31 exceeded 500,000 doses administered per day, but for August so far, shots-to-the-arm dropped to about 470,000 average doses per day, which means 30,000 fewer people daily getting their jabs.
The government achieved staggering vaccination progress last month as daily jabs more than doubled from about 225,000 doses administered on July 1 to a peak of more than 540,000 jabs on August 1, based on rolling seven-day averages.
Since the August 1 peak vaccination rate of an average 542,455 jabs, Malaysia’s daily jabs are on a downtrend, dipping by about 91,000 to an average of 451,468 doses administered on August 10, approximately a 20 per cent reduction.
In the past fortnight, average daily shots-to-the-arm nationwide fluctuated between the 450,000 and 500,000 range, unable to exceed half a million to date.
Coronavirus vaccine shortages were recently reported in Sabah, Johor, and Penang, putting a stumbling block in vaccinations that accelerated in previous weeks as vaccine centres (PPVs) closed and inoculation slots were limited. The Selangor state government was even prompted to loan 500,000 doses to the central administration.
Yesterday, Sabah, Penang, and Johor reported record-high new infections at 3,376 cases, 2,054 cases, and 1,743 cases respectively. Covid-19 intensive care unit (ICU) capacity was highest in Sabah on August 23 at 132 per cent, followed by Kedah (132 per cent), Kelantan (109 per cent), Perak (106 per cent), Penang (103 per cent), and Johor (100 per cent).
Coronavirus cases in those six states totalled 69,983 in the past week, comprising about 47 per cent of the nation’s 149,332 infections. Malaysia’s daily case tally quadrupled from about 165 to 666 average new infections per million people between June 25 and August 21.
To date, Kedah, Kelantan, and Sabah have fully vaccinated less than 40 per cent of their adult populations, while Perak has double-jabbed about 43 per cent, Penang at 49 per cent and Johor at about 40 per cent. The national average is about 58 per cent, pulled up by vaccination rates exceeding 85 per cent in Sarawak, the Klang Valley, and Labuan.
The Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) did not respond to multiple queries from the press about vaccine deliveries to Malaysia or requests for confirmation of vaccine shortages.
When former Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin was in office, he used to give the press updates on vaccine deliveries at the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force’s (CITF) weekly media briefings. CITF’s last update on vaccine deliveries was given in Khairy’s speech in the Dewan Rakyat nearly a month ago on July 28.
Khairy’s former science advisor Ghows Azzam tweeted yesterday that the government has done a lot of work to ensure “fairly consistent” Covid-19 vaccine supply through constant discussions with vaccine manufacturers. The federal government has procured about 87.9 million vaccine doses (Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac, AstraZeneca-Oxford, the global COVAX facility, CanSino, and Sputnik V), enough to cover 140 per cent of the population. Only about 32.2 million doses have been administered nationwide as of yesterday.
He also believed Covid-19 vaccination in Sabah, Penang, and Johor would continue at high rates, but noted: “There is still not enough vaccine for everyone until end of Oct.”
Then-Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said last July 26 that the government planned to completely inoculate all adults in the country under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) by October.
Despite declining vaccination rates, Malaysia managed to reach the 40 per cent milestone of complete vaccination of the total population on August 22, earlier than South Korea and Australia that started their coronavirus vaccine rollouts at about the same time as Malaysia.