JOHOR BARU, Dec 29 — Johor DAP state committee member Dr Boo Cheng Hau said Malaysia has missed out on an opportunity to formally test and procure Covid-19 vaccines in the past 10 months since the movement control order (MCO) took place.
He said during the time, the Covid-19 pandemic has tested the country’s research and development capacity as well as our willingness to try out new approaches.
“It is alright that we are not able to invent and manufacture vaccines now, but we should have the will to try out testing on new vaccines,” he said.
Dr Boo, a general medical practitioner with more than 30 years of experience, pointed out that countries such as Indonesia, Brazil, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been conducting Phase Three clinical trials on China-made vaccines as early as July.
He said Singapore has also procured enough Covid-19 vaccines to be rolled out for a free mass vaccination campaign from December 28 onwards.
“Malaysia has missed the golden window period of doing something substantial in trialing and procuring Covid-19 vaccines in the past 10 months,” he said on his Facebook page yesterday after announcing that he is out of quarantine and free off the Covid-19 infection.
Dr Boo was previously being treated in the Permai Hospital here after testing positive for Covid-19 last Saturday and was under quarantine in the Ministry of Health Training Institute in Johor Baru.
He said he will spend a few more days to do some reading and relaxation before going back to work.
Dr Boo, said initially many thought the Covid-19 pandemic was less fatal than the deadly Ebola pandemic and that there was no urgency to launch any vaccination programmes.
“While the Ebola pandemic ripped away 11,000 lives, the Covid-19 pandemic has already caused 1.7 million deaths within a period of a year, border closures and economic shutdowns.
“Because Ebola was much more fatal, it caught the world’s attention and was successfully contained with an emergency vaccination programme.
“Nonetheless, the World Health Organisation (WHO) applied a “ring vaccination” strategy by using new vaccines at clinical trial stages on vulnerable contact groups which successfully contained the pandemic between 2014 and 2016,” said Dr Boo, noting that the current Ebola vaccines are only approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for full usage in December 2019.
Dr Boo pointed out that the Covid-19’s much lower death rate and insidious clinical presentation have made policy-makers less vigilant on the necessity of early control measures and the development of effective vaccination strategies.
On his recovery, the 56-year-old seasoned politician said he has passed the infective stage and hopes all his colleagues and the public continue to be vigilant against the pandemic.
“Contracting a natural infection is definitely not a good way to get herd immunity for Covid-19’s high morbidity and mortality rates. The consequences of vaccination are far more predictable and safer,” he said.
Dr Boo added that he will still get a vaccination to boost his immunity against the Covid-19 infection.
“It is better to get vaccinated where the results are more predictable and safer than the unpredictable consequences of the natural infection itself,” he said.