PH: Engage GPs For Covid-19 Booster Rollout, Approve Mix-And-Match Vaccines

Thai studies show higher neutralising antibody levels with either Pfizer or AstraZeneca as a booster for recipients of two Sinovac doses.

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) today urged the Ministry of Health (MOH) to clearly define its strategy in implementing Covid-19 vaccine boosters and third doses.

The PH health committee expressed concern with the Malaysian Medical Association’s (MMA) complaint that state health departments have yet to engage private general practitioners (GPs) on the booster and third dose programmes for senior citizens, frontliners, and immunocompromised individuals.

“This should not be the case as lessons should have been learnt from the past mistakes including involving the private GPs only at the very last minute,” the PH health committee said in a statement.

Opposition lawmakers told MOH to provide a clear timeline for implementation of boosters and third doses, a clear definition and categories of eligible groups, education on the importance of additional doses and ensuring no one is left behind, engage private GPs, and approve heterologous vaccination with booster shots.

“We take the stand that the Ministry of Health and the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) should approve as soon as possible heterologous vaccination with the booster,” said the PH health committee, which includes former health and deputy health ministers Dzulkefly Ahmad and Dr Lee Boon Chye, among others.

Dr Kelvin Yii, who is also a member of the PH health committee, cited two Thai studies that showed an AstraZeneca booster given after two Sinovac doses resulted in higher neutralising antibody levels than in recipients with two shots of the inactivated vaccine. 

Another two Thai studies showed higher neutralising antibody levels against the Delta variant with a Pfizer booster for recipients double-vaccinated with Sinovac compared to an AstraZeneca booster.

Malaysia’s NPRA has yet to approve heterologous vaccination for boosters or third doses, authorising only Pfizer boosters for individuals double-vaccinated with the same mRNA vaccine. 

The Ministry of Health (MOH) is due to study heterologous vaccination with boosters in Sarawak next month.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced last Wednesday that Pfizer boosters would be offered to people aged 60 and above and frontline workers, including medical staff and military personnel, at least six months after their second Pfizer jab.

Third doses would also be offered to people with weak immune systems like cancer patients, organ recipients, and dialysis patients, as part of their primary vaccine series, at least 28 days after completing vaccination. 

CodeBlue reported that Sinovac comprised about 59 per cent of 76,186 breakthrough cases in fully vaccinated people nationwide from September 28 to October 11, even though more people had received Pfizer at 42 per cent of the fully inoculated population, compared to 38 per cent Sinovac. 

Paediatrician Dr Musa Mohd Nordin calculated the risk of breakthrough infection with Sinovac at 1.83 times higher than Pfizer, based on that sample.

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