The health ministry does not plan to mix and match Covid-19 vaccines yet due to a lack of adequate data on the matter, health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah says.
He said so far, the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) had not received any data, reports or evidence from vaccine companies on how vaccine mixing can successfully control Covid-19 infection.
“We are still monitoring the situation, if there is a need to implement (vaccine mixing). For now, there is still no need for it.
“Especially if you mix Western and Eastern vaccines, for example, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sinovac, there is no evidence that it is successful,” he said at a special media conference yesterday.
Noor Hisham said the health ministry could not recommend the method if there was no evidence because it needs to ensure it is safe for the public.
“Only when there are studies done can we advise whether to mix the vaccines or not,” he said.
Thailand, as part of its latest immunisation strategy, reportedly intends to use the AstraZeneca vaccine as a second dose for those who received Sinovac as their first dose.
Meanwhile, Noor Hisham said the country’s vaccination rate should be increased to 40% to reduce the number of new Covid-19 cases.
He said this should be done immediately as Malaysia is currently in a critical period following the increase in infections to five figures.
He said a high vaccination rate was also able to prevent a high number of fatalities, as seen in the UK where there was one death for every 50 people in January, when the percentage of the population vaccinated was lower.
He said once the vaccination drive was expanded, fatalities there fell to one in 1,000 people with fewer people hospitalised, adding that it was important to be vaccinated to reduce the number of hospital admissions and those requiring ICU treatment.
The country’s vaccination rate stands at 11.3% to date, he said, adding that vaccination has also been proven to reduce severe effects of Covid-19 infection.
“Six weeks after Phase Two of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme involving senior citizens, those with comorbidities and persons with disabilities, we found that admissions for those aged over 60 and above have been reducing.
“Instead, we see an increase (in cases) among those who are younger and those yet to be vaccinated,” he said.