The minister in charge of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) today denied claims by former prime minister Najib Razak that Malaysia is lagging behind other countries in achieving herd immunity.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin also rejected an assertion by Najib that the government had made an about-turn in allowing the private sector to help authorities in administering the vaccines to the masses.
“From the very beginning, PICK had planned to involve private health services. This is also stated in the PICK handbook. Perhaps you did not read the guidebook to the end.
“I have also stated this repeatedly through briefings, press releases and media conferences. You can Google if you have overlooked,” Khairy said in a response posted on Najib’s Facebook page.
Najib, who frequently criticises government policies through Facebook posts, had predicted that based on the current rate of vaccination, Malaysia could only achieve its target of 80% herd immunity by March next year.
He cited as examples the vaccination drives in Singapore and Indonesia, as well as the US and Britain, saying they had managed to cover far more people than Malaysia.
But Khairy said Najib’s statement contained several factual errors, including the total number of days since the launch of Malaysia’s vaccination programme.
He said the slower rate for the first phase of the vaccination programme was because the bulk of those receiving the shots are frontliners.
“Therefore, the administration of vaccines to this group should be done in stages to ensure no disruption to their essential duties,” said Khairy.
He said the vaccination drive is expected to accelerate in subsequent phases, alongside an increase in the number of vaccination centres, more deliveries of vaccines and approval by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency.
Still, Khairy said, Malaysia’s average daily vaccination rate is 12,797 people, higher than Singapore’s 9,906, based on the number of days since the two countries rolled out their immunisation programmes.
“As such, your comparison is unfair as it does not take into account the number of days the vaccination programme has taken place,” said Khairy.
On Najib’s call for the government to speed up vaccination by having drive-thru centres, Khairy said this was already in the pipeline.
“So don’t worry, this plan is already in place,” he said, adding that authorities must also take into account factors such as the after-effects of immunisation, logistics and varying protocols for different types of vaccines.