The government’s announcement that the country will begin receiving supplies of Covid-19 vaccine early next year has seen people more confident about leaving their homes and venturing into public places, health experts say.
Dr Steven Chow, president of the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations Malaysia, said the good news about the vaccine’s arrival was like a light at the end of the tunnel.
“Without a vaccine, it feels like an endless journey,” he told MalaysiaNow.
At the height of the Covid-19 crisis, he said, most people were afraid to leave their homes and expose themselves to possible infection in public areas.
He said this was due to the stigma of the disease which made patients especially go “into hiding” for fear of perpetuating community transmissions.
The movement control order implemented from March to July to curb the spread of Covid-19 saw members of the public effectively confined to their homes, with the economic sector subject to tight restrictions and a ban placed on interstate travel. Only frontliners and those in essential services were allowed to move about.
“Without a vaccine, it feels like an endless journey.”
Last month, the government said it had inked a deal with pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for a supply of vaccine to be delivered beginning first quarter of 2021.
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the initial agreement would see 12.8 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine delivered to immunise 6.4 million people or 20% of Malaysians.
He said Malaysia had also signed an agreement with the Covax Facility to procure Covid-19 vaccine for 10% of Malaysians.
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) however said the imminent arrival of the vaccine should not be seen as an opportunity to abandon the SOPs prescribed under the new normal.
MMA president Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said people would still have to adhere to the SOPs set out by the health ministry.
He also cautioned that the development of a vaccine was no guarantee that the infection rate would go down.
“Just because a vaccine will come doesn’t mean you may not get infections. This is a low dose,” he told MalaysiaNow, referring to the vaccine.
“So people must continue to follow the SOPs. They must always look after themselves to prevent getting this disease.
“Just because a vaccine is coming doesn’t mean infections will go down. And they will be in trouble.”