Federal government should buy up the 3.2 million doses of excess supply of Covid-19 vaccine held by Pharmaniaga to speed up and complete the national immunisation rollout before 64th National Day or latest by 54th Malaysia Day as the country is in a race of “vaccine vs Delta virus”
The MP for Tanjung Karang, Noh Omar told Parliament last Wednesday that government-linked company Pharmaniaga had 3.2 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine in excess supply in storage, which has not been denied.
The Federal Government should buy up the 3.2 million doses of excess supply of Covid-19 vaccine held by Pharmaniaga to speed up and complete the national immunisation rollout before 64th National Day on August 31 or latest by 54th Malaysia Day on Sept. 16 as the country is in a race of “vaccine vs Delta virus”.
In the past week, while Malaysia was plunged into a major constitutional crisis, Malaysian policy makers had been distracted from the change in the character of the war against Covid-19 pandemic.
The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said the war against Covid-19 had changed because of the highly contagious Delta variant, proposing a clearer message, mandatory vaccines for health workers and a return to universal masking.
An internal CDC document said the variant, first detected in India and now dominant across the globe, is as contagious as chickenpox and far more contagious than the common cold or flu. It can be passed on even by vaccinated people, and may cause more serious disease than earlier coronavirus strains.
The document, entitled "Improving communications around vaccine breakthrough and vaccine effectiveness", said the variant required a new approach to help the public understand the danger - including making clear that unvaccinated people were more than 10 times more likely than those who are vaccinated to become seriously ill or die.
Recommended preventative measures included making vaccines mandatory for health care professionals to protect the vulnerable and a return to universal wearing of face masks.
While vaccinated people were less likely to become infected, once they contracted such "breakthrough infections" from Delta - unlike the case with earlier variants - they might now be just as likely as the unvaccinated to pass the disease on to others.
"High viral loads suggest an increased risk of transmission and raised concern that, unlike with other variants, vaccinated people infected with Delta can transmit the virus," CDC head Rochelle Walensky said in a statement.
The head of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said health systems in many countries were now being overwhelmed: "Hard-won gains are in jeopardy or being lost," he told a news conference.
The global health body's top emergency expert Mike Ryan told reporters that vaccines were nevertheless still effective at preventing serious illness and death: "We are fighting the same virus but a virus that has become fitter."
Even in rich countries that were among the first to roll out vaccination campaigns, cases have surged. While vaccines have so far kept death rates lower, large populations remain vulnerable, especially those who refuse vaccinesl
In Britain, where the Delta variant caused a sharp surge in infections in recent months despite one of the world's fastest inoculation campaigns, a panel advising the government said protection from vaccines was likely to wane over time, meaning vaccination campaigns would probably last for years.
Countries in Asia, many of which avoided the worst outcomes that hit Western nations in 2020, have been particularly hard hit in recent weeks.
It is unfortunate that Malaysian policy makers were distracted from this new development in the war against the Covid-19 pandemic by a major constitutional crisis precipitated by the assertion of the de facto Law Minister, Takiyuddin Hassan in Parliament on Monday that six emergency ordinances had been revoked on July 21 although there was no Royal Assent or gazette.
Although vaccination is important, vaccination is not a silver bullet and we cannot depend on it to win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is a matter of grave concern that after five months of the national immunisation rollout, we have only fully vaccinated 20% of Malaysians with two doses.
Now that the Delta variant is upon us, I call on the Minister in charge of vaccines, Khairy Jamaluddin, to buy up the 3.2 million doses of excess supply of Covid-19 vaccines held by Pharmaniaga to accelerate the national immunisation rollout and to aim at achieving the administration of one million doses of vaccines a day.
The authorities should also give Malaysians a full briefing about the role of Delta variant in the recent surges in new Covid-19 cases and Covid-19 deaths in Malaysia.