#kerajaangagal47 – As Sarawak is allowed to procure its own Covid-19 vaccine, the Federal Government should end its monopoly on vaccine procurement and allow the various State Governments to procure their own Covid-19 vaccines to give free to the people as Malaysia is in a race against time fighting the critical battle of ‘vaccine vs virus’ to accelerate the national vaccination roll-out

One of the top priority strategies in the war against Covid-19 pandemic must be to accelerate the national vaccination rollout in Malaysia which is too slow and tardy, especially as various Covid-19 variants had injected a new urgency into the whole Covid-19 scenario.

The new coronavirus is a moving target.

Early in the pandemic, leading scientists warned that the virus could become endemic and “may never go away,” including Dr Michael Ryan, head of the World Health Organization’s emergencies programme.

For much of 2020, many scientists were surprised and reassured that the coronavirus had not changed significantly enough to become more transmissible or deadly.

With major breakthroughs as vaccines were produced in double-quick time, a few scientists had hopes that it would be possible to virtually eliminate Covid-19, if only the world could be vaccinated quickly enough.

The optimism proved short-lived. In late December, the UK warned of a new, more transmissible variant that was quickly becoming the dominant form of the coronavirus in the country. Around the same time, researchers learned of the impact of the faster-spreading variants in South Africa and in Brazil, and most recently, the deadly Indian variant.

By early January, there is "a new chapter" in the Covid-19 pandemic, requiring countries to constantly monitor for mutations that could dampen the effect of vaccines.

Now most scientists have undergone a change of heart on Covid-19, with a virologist even describing it as “scientific whiplash”, ending the idea that it was plausible to achieve so-called "functional eradication" of the coronavirus, similar to measles.

Now, mankind is in a race against time in the battle “virus vs vaccine”, which the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme co-ordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin should take into account and ensure that the National Immunisation Programme is accelerated to take account of this new factor.

Two months ago, in my media statement of March 22, 2021, I asked:

“Can we ensure that we can register triple-digit figure for the daily increase of new Covid-19 cases in March and double-digit figure in April, bringing an end to the seven-month third wave of Covid-19 pandemic from early September – when we had a daily increase of 62 new Covid-19 cases on Malaysia Day, Sept. 16, 2020?

“Can we guarantee that before we bring to the third wave of Covid-19 to double-digit daily increase, there will not be a fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia, rising to higher levels of daily increase of Covid-19 cases than the peak of 5,728 new Covid-19 cases on January 30?

“Can we ensure the success of the national Covid-19 vaccination rollout, and even accelerate and complete it by the National Day-Malaysia Day period of August 31- September 16, 2021 so that normality, recovery of the economy and national life can begin?”

This was before the world became fully aware the of deadly mutation of Covid-19 virus. Now with the world-wide knowledge of the deadly Covid-19 variants, it is all the more imperative that the National Immunisation Programme should be speeded up, and my proposal to accelerate and end the national rollout by Malaysia Day on Sept. 16 should be given consideration.

To get herd immunity, we will need to fully vaccinate 60-70% of our Malaysian population. Presently, medical experts think that vaccine immunity may last 6-8 months.

If vaccine immunity can only last 6-8 months, with our slow vaccine rollout, by the time the last vaccine group get their first dose, the first vaccine group would have passed their vaccine immune period.

Will we ever get herd immunity this way?

Yesterday, the Sarawak government announced that it will receive 500,000 does of Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine within a week, and that it had procured an additional 500,000 doses of Sinovac.

As Sarawak is allowed to procure its own Covid-19 vaccine, the Federal Government should end its monopoly on vaccine procurement and all State governments should be allowed to procure their own Covid-19 vaccines to provide free for the people in their respective states as Malaysia is in a race against time in the critical battle of ‘vaccine vs virus’ to accelerate the national vaccination roll-out.

On Hari Raya Aidilfritri day, it was disclosed that after spending nearly seven months tracking down Covid-19 cases in the Hentian Cluster, the Health Ministry declared the cluster to have ended as no new cases had been recorded in the cluster for 28 consecutive days. It was one of the 12 clusters to be declared to have ended.

A doctor friend asked:

“This seemed to give a picture that our ‘track and trace team’ may be understaffed. I am sure that MOH is aware that the ‘track and trace’ team is as vital, if not more so than the testing team and the treating team.

“In our effort to control a very infectious virus, we need boots on the ground to find out where that virus originated from and where it is hiding. This is hard work and often under appreciated. Is the MOH lacking staff to do track and trace (T&T)?

“We are all very concerned as there are still hundreds of active clusters all over the country. On Friday, MOH reported a total of 461 out of 1,861 clusters are still active. They also reported 13 new clusters. If we are taking 7 months to close down one cluster, does it mean that with the present T&T workforce, we will take 3,000 months to end this crisis?

“Surely, the Health Director-General must ask the government to hire more staff (maybe temporary staff) to help, so that we can close down the clusters in weeks, if not days.

“It may also be a good idea for the ‘boss’ to visit and meet with the T&T team to thank them personally, try and shore up their morale. They are all doing a very tough and important work and would surely like to be appreciated.”

May be, there could be a response from the relevant authorities?

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri