As long as at least 60% of the population is vaccinated, the rest will be automatically protected.
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Children and teens aged 18 years and below, as well as individuals with immune system disorders will not be given the Covid-19 vaccine.
According to Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Ahmad Amzah Hashim, both these groups – around 30% of the Malaysian population – will be protected through herd immunity instead.
At least 60% of the country will need to be vaccinated in order to obtain herd immunityAhmad Amzah Hashim, Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation via Berita Harian (Translated from BM)
What is herd immunity
As stated by the World Health Organisation, herd immunity, also known as population immunity, is a concept used for vaccination, in which a population can be protected from a virus if a threshold of vaccination is reached within the population.
When the vast majority of a population are vaccinated, this lowers the overall amount of virus able to spread within the population. As such, not every single person needs to be vaccinated in order to be protected.
This helps ensure that vulnerable groups of people who cannot be vaccinated are still kept safe.
Malaysia’s vaccination plan
Ahmad Amzah explains that the country is looking at vaccinating about 70% of the Malaysian population for free as soon as the first quarter of 2021.
This in turn will automatically protect the other 30% who are vulnerable.
The 30% who will not be vaccinated are children aged below 18 years old and those with immune system problems who cannot be vaccinated.Ahmad Amzah Hashim, Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation via Berita Harian (Translated from BM)
Even so, he added that the 30% mentioned can choose to be vaccinated at private hospitals if they want. They will get tax exemptions for the cost of the vaccine in up to RM1,000 per person.
Out of the 70% to be vaccinated, he said 20% (or 6.4 million people) will receive the U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, which Malaysia has agreed to buy 12.8 million doses of.
Meanwhile, another 10% of the population will be given the vaccines acquired through the Global Covid-19 Vaccine Access Plan (COVAX).
For the remaining 40% of the population, the government is negotiating with suppliers such as Sputnik V, Moderna, AstraZeneca and others.
So far only Pfizer has expressed their commitment to sending vaccines to us by the first quarter of 2021. The other suppliers will need to wait until the fourth quarter of 2021.Ahmad Amzah Hashim, Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation via Berita Harian (Translated from BM)
It should be noted that during Pfizer’s clinical testing period, they didn’t include children as participants to test their vaccine.
Which means we still don’t know how these vaccines might affect high-risk age groups.
Front liners will be vaccinated first
Amzar shared that the Covid-19 vaccine will be priorities to frontliners such as health and law enforcement personnel as well as high risk groups, such as senior citizens.
However, even before this can be done, the Covid-19 vaccines acquired by the government must first be approved by recognised regulatory bodies such as WHO, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the European Union (EU).
The vaccines must also be evaluated and approved by the Malaysian National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) and the Health Ministry (KKM).
All 12 Covid-19 vaccines in the third phase of clinical trials have been tested on 20,000 to 90,000 volunteers from various countries across the globe, including those in the ASEAN region.Ahmad Amzah Hashim, Deputy Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation via Berita Harian (Translated from BM)
Ahmad Amzar also clarified that these vaccines were not only tested on monkeys and mice, adding that all vaccine candidates being considered by Malaysia are reported to have efficacy rates of 90% and above.
He also stressed that the Covid-19 vaccines do not contain porcine (pig) or bovine (cow) products, and that the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) has helped in the search for vaccines that adhere to requirements under Islam.
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