Focus on herd immunity first, say experts

PETALING JAYA: The government should focus on achieving herd immunity among the Malaysian population before it decides on procuring any booster shots for Covid-19 innoculation plan, say health experts.

Prof Dr Moy Foong Ming, of Universiti Malaya’s Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, said seeing that there was no evidence yet on how long the immunity from the two-dose regimen lasts, studies must be conducted to ascertain the status of antibody concentration after the double dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

“The third dose may play a crucial role in future. But for now, there is not enough data to support this claim.

“Therefore, the government should focus on getting 80% of the population vaccinated and achieving herd immunity in order for Covid-19 transmissions to come to a very low level, ” she explained.

International Islamic University Malaysia’s Assistant Prof Dr Mohammad Farhan Rusli agreed with the priority on the mandatory two shots for as many Malaysians as possible.

He also noted that it would be ethically wrong to hoard vaccines.

“As we are in an extremely globalised world, there must be health equity and access to all nations. Achieving herd immunity in Malaysia alone is not enough; it has to be for the world, so we have a fighting chance against Covid-19, ” he added.

Recently, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said a third dose of Covid-19 vaccine was probably needed within six months to a year of being fully vaccinated.

In reaction, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said there was no data yet to support the need for a third or booster shot.

On whether the vaccine is effective against the latest strains of the Covid-19 virus, Dr Mohammad Farhan stressed that what was important now was getting the people vaccinated as it would reduce the risks of developing serious symptoms of Covid-19.

Dr Moy noted that existing vaccines were still effective against Covid-19 virus variants.

“In order to prevent further mutation and development of new variants, stopping the spread at the source is key.

“We can prevent future new variants of the Covid-19 virus from happening.” she added.

Dr Moy also said the government should scale up vaccine manufacturing.

As of Tuesday, a total of 462,335 people have received both doses of their vaccine shots.

Source: Focus on herd immunity first, say experts | The Star

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