TUARAN, April 4 — Malaysia will continue to use the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine as the incidents involving the vaccine are rare and thus the benefits outweigh the risks, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
However, Dr Noor Hisham said Malaysia needs to be more careful with the usage of the vaccine because of blood clots and fatalities reported in many countries.
“We will continue, we have no reason to stop it because as I say we look into the benefits which outweigh the risks,” he told reporters after an official visit to Tuaran Hospital here today. Also present was hospital director Dr G.Mohan.
Today, National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the government has prepared several backup plans if the use of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine was postponed and the move was mooted in the event the vaccine was found to be unsuitable for use in the country.
Meanwhile, Dr Noor Hisham said the Health Ministry (MOH) is looking at the best method to forge cooperation with other government departments and agencies to empower the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme in the rural areas and interior to ensure residents receive their vaccine jabs.
“Each area may have different needs. MOH can work with police, Armed Forces and RELA to enter such areas.
“We will also look in terms of logistics and the best vaccine to be used. Preferably we want to use single dose vaccine rather than double dose, so the best vaccine at the moment for single dose is CanSino and Johnson and Johnson vaccines. One dose is much easier and we can cover the whole village,” he said.
Taking Sabah as an example, Dr Noor Hisham said about 400,000 people in the state have registered through MySejahtera for vaccine shot and the figure needs to be higher.
However, Dr Noor Hisham said Sabah can be the best example in containing the spread of COVID-19 when total number of infection cases was successfully brought down from four figures in October last year to two digits in the last six weeks.
“In the six-month battle against COVID-19 in Sabah…the people of Sabah did not expect it would drop from four figures to two digits, this is a success which should be a benchmark to other states.
“Among the strategies deployed in Sabah in curbing COVID-10 infection were border control, hospital capacity and capability, method of public health to protect high risk groups and empowering the community,” he said.
Apart from that, Dr Noor Hisham said it is not impossible for Malaysia get new infection cases to a single digit or zero if Malaysians continued to comply with the standard operating procedure to contain COVID-19 and practise public health methods.