KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 — The Drug Control Authority (DCA) is meeting today to consider whether or not to approve the use of Sinovac and AstraZeneca-Oxford coronavirus vaccines for booster shots.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told this to Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii, who asked him in the Dewan Rakyat to consider authorising Sinovac boosters due to high hesitancy towards mix-and-match, or heterologous vaccination, for primary inoculation with the inactivated vaccine.
“You and I know the current data, but isn’t it better if they get a third Sinovac dose, rather than not taking the third dose at all?” Dr Yii told Khairy during the minister’s winding-up speech at the policy-level debate of Budget 2022.
A real-world Chile study published at a World Health Organization (WHO) consultation on October 25 showed that a third vaccine dose with either Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca for individuals double vaccinated with Sinovac was more than 90 per cent effective in preventing Covid-19 infection, symptomatic disease, and hospital and intensive care unit (ICU) admission.
Efficacy of heterologous vaccination with either vaccine exceeded effectiveness of a third Sinovac jab for all indicators.
“When the DCA makes a decision later, I will announce it,” Khairy said in response, referring to the regulator’s meeting today on Sinovac and AstraZeneca booster doses.
Currently, the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) has only authorised the use of Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine as a booster for people whose primary vaccination was the same shot, or for individuals who were double vaccinated with Sinovac.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) last week recommended Pfizer as the main booster option for primary vaccination with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, and Sinopharm.
There appears to be serious reluctance, particularly among the Chinese community inoculated with Sinovac, in receiving Pfizer booster shots.
Khairy also said the government will expedite the Covid-19 booster vaccination programme, saying: “Besides the use of private GP (general practitioner) clinics in big cities, we have no choice but to restore the use of mega PPVs to expedite it.”
Covid-19 cases and hospital admissions are resurging in Malaysia. New infections nationwide rose last week for the first time, by 11 per cent, after a consecutive 11-week decline.
A Sungai Buloh Hospital doctor tweeted that a new Covid-19 wave is expected next month, while active wards and the ICU in Malaysia’s main Covid-19 facility are full of severely ill patients.