It is said that as of 11th April 2021, more than 789 million people from 185 countries have undergone vaccination. Of which, United Kingdom is leading the pack with 47.32% of the population already been vaccinated closely followed by the US with 35.65%. Chart source: Our World In Data
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Malaysia Phase 2 Vaccination
Now Malaysia is entering Phase 2 of the COVID19 vaccination which will start on 19th April 2021 which should see a bigger slice of the population (around 40% of the total) getting vaccinated in 4 months time. Infographic source: Malay Mail.
On the number of doses, Malaysia should have more than enough supply to meet the demand during the vaccination with pre-orders and also local rebottling taking place soon, at least based on the number of doses reported in the news recently.
Malaysia will receive 500,000 finished doses of CanSino’s single-shot Covid-19 vaccine in the second quarter of the year, starting this month, Dr Adham Baba announced today.
In April, 150,000 finished doses of the coronavirus vaccine by Chinese biopharmaceutical company CanSino Biologics Inc will be sent from China to Malaysia, followed by 350,000 finished doses in May.
Malaysia will begin receiving 600,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in June under a direct procurement exercise, said the coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, Mr Khairy Jamaluddin.
Last year, Malaysia signed a deal to procure 6.4 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine.
Malaysia will receive over 183,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinovac Covid-19 vaccines for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP) today.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said there will be 83,070 doses of Pfizer-BionTech and 100,000 of Sinovac.
On March 22, Khairy said there will be 124,020 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech and 100,000 doses from Sinovac. On March 29, another 125,190 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech will be brought in.
“By March 29, the cumulative number of Pfizer doses received by Malaysia will be 1,000,350 doses.
And finally, the fact that we are even willing to give away COVID19 doses to other countries indicates that we have enough doses in the country to go around.
Malaysia has agreed to despatch 50,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine to Bosnia-Herzegovina as well as other countries who did not receive priority through Covid-19 Vaccine Global Access (Covax) facility.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Special Functions) Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Md Yusof said the aid would be channelled in the name of humanity and the cabinet concurred with the decision yesterday.
“So far, Bosnia-Herzegovina has appealed to Malaysia as fatalities and infections in the country are rising and they faced difficulties in the European community.
“So based on our caring policy, we agreed to bilaterally provide 50,000 doses of vaccine (to Bosnia-Herzegovina) as we understand not all countries are as lucky as Malaysia who was given priority to obtain the Covid-10 vaccine,” he said.
Why Then Vaccination Is Slow?
As of todate, Malaysia has only managed to achieve COVID19 vaccination for 1.75% of the population. That is based on Phase 1 of the vaccination program which only targetted the frontliners. Chart source: Our World In Data
Despite the lower number, we are ahead of Thailand which has only completed vaccination for 0.72% of their population. Singapore is the highest with 19.34% but then again, their population number is much smaller compared to other countries.
So why the process of vaccination cannot be sped up so that we can get more people vaccinated within the shortest timeframe?
One reason seems to be the lack of resources and logistics:
“I think the issue is still the same like the one that contributed to the gap in contact tracing– ‘hogging’ all works, even one that can be safely delegated, within the walls of JKN (state health department) and MOH (Ministry of Health),” Selangor Task Force Covid-19 (STFC) member (digital epidemiology) Dr Helmi Zakariah told CodeBlue.
“The insistence that all scheduling, appointment booking, and administration be centralised by JKN and the district health offices and public health clinics (Klinik Kesihatan) is disconcerting.
“But, MOH human resources are limited. The people that are supposedly executing this vaccination programme are the same people that still need to handle contact tracing, community screening, Covid-19 Assessment Centres (CAC) etc.
Selangor is still seeing a high number of cases, although it’s trending down. I feel nothing but sympathy to my fellow medical colleagues juggling so many roles.”
Dr Helmi pointed out there’s a reason why MOH gets the private practice to help with its National Immunisation Programme (NIP) to ensure widespread coverage of child vaccination, citing manpower, geographical coverage, and speed.
“It’s not a secret that health care worker distribution in Malaysia suffers from inequality,” he said, citing Harvard’s Malaysia Health Systems Research 2016 and WHO’s Malaysia Health System Review back in 2013.
Slow Registration for Vaccination
Back in 2020, only 67% of the population felt safe to proceed with the vaccination which is understandable as most of the vaccines were still at the testing stage. But now with Phase 2 of the vaccination commencing soon, the number of the population ready for vaccination should be higher. Infographic source: The Star.
Anyone with a smartphone should have the mandatory MySejahtera app by now and it made sense that the COVID19 vaccination registration is tied up with this app so that registration becomes easy and effective. One just needs to use one app for all COVID19 related actions.
As of early April 2021, it is reported that only 7.6 million out of 26.7 million had registered through the MySejahtera app. This amounts to only 29% of the population that is eligible for COVID19 vaccination.
Health minister Dr Adham Baba said the MoH was targeting 70% to 80% of Malaysians to register for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, but thus far only 7.6 million out of 26.7 million had registered through the MySejahtera app.
“I am not satisfied. MoH is not satisfied. MoH will find out the reason why they have not registered.
“Is the campaign not compelling enough or are they are taking a wait-and-see attitude?
Or do they lack knowledge? Some even claim that the vaccine is this and that.
“Thus far, seven million have registered but the number is still low,” he said after officiating the district-level Malaysia Prihatin Covid-19 Vaccination: Protect Yourself, Protect All programme here today.
Adham said manual registration at health offices, health clinics, government and private hospitals had also been opened to make it easier for residents who did not have the technology or internet access to register for the vaccine.
In the meantime, he said the effectiveness of the vaccine had been proven as statistics of healthcare workers infected with Covid-19 had shown a decline.
Every one of us also has a duty to inform our family members especially our elderly who may not be using a smartphone and thus may not have registered for the vaccination.
Comparing to other countries, it may seem that we may be slow in deploying the vaccination in a greater number of the population. But considering that we have a plan on when we will roll out the vaccination and who will be getting it, at least it is better than others who may not have any plans at all.
All that needs to be done is to improve the resources and logistics so that Phase 2 vaccination gets done within the agreed timeline. It will be to Malaysia’s advantage however if Phase 2 can be completed in less than 4 months timeframe.
This will include opening up private hospitals that already have the ready resources and logistics as the alternate centres that can also do the vaccination. This is of course without the huge cost that may be imposed by private hospitals for normal medical treatments.
The bigger challenge would be Phase 3 which will see the biggest chunk of the population getting vaccinated. The target timeline is about 10 months to get this done.