Sarawak will use Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine all throughout state’s vaccination programme

Healthcare workers preparing to open the Stadium Perpaduan, Petra Jaya in Kuching for the first phase of the Sarawak Covid-19 Vaccination Programme which will last until March 31. — Photo by Roystein Emmor/Borneo Post Online
Healthcare workers preparing to open the Stadium Perpaduan, Petra Jaya in Kuching for the first phase of the Sarawak Covid-19 Vaccination Programme which will last until March 31. — Photo by Roystein Emmor/Borneo Post Online

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KUCHING, Feb 27 — Sarawak will continue to use the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine throughout the seven months of the state’s vaccination programme, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said the use of other vaccines such as the Sinovac vaccine from China would only be considered if Malaysia’s regulatory bodies such as the Health Ministry approved its use.

“At the moment we will just use the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. However if the regulatory bodies said the other vaccines can also be used, then we will look into it, and may consider using the other vaccines.

“It is however subject to the decision of the regulatory bodies,” he said.

Abang Johari was asked if Sarawak would consider using the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine from China in its vaccination programme after various online news reports revealed that the efficacy of the Sinovac vaccine dropped to about 50 per cent compared to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which has an efficacy of more than 90 per cent even after only the first dose, according to the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme handbook.

He assured that the regulatory bodies, especially the Health Ministry with its experts, would know what is best for the health of Malaysians, with the aim to break the Covid-19 chain of infection.

“If they (regulatory bodies) say the other vaccines can be used, then we may use them. If not, then we don’t use them. We leave it to the experts,” he said.

Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) had previously set up a ‘Covid-19 Vaccine Adversary Group’ to look into matters regarding Covid-19 vaccines in the state.

Led by former state health director Datu Prof Dr Andrew Kiyu, the group consists of 11 scientists and experts in the medical field, tasked to also advise the state government on matters related to the vaccines.

On a related matter, Abang Johari said while Sarawak is implementing its own vaccination programme, the state government is also looking at the implementation of similar programmes in other parts of the world.

He said as far as the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is concerned, the state government was given to understand that the vaccine has been cleared for use across North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, and vaccination campaigns have begun in at least 99 countries, including Malaysia.

“For the record, since yesterday more than 218 million doses of the vaccines had been administered across 99 countries.

“Reports in the United States of America (US) says the vaccination has reduced the overall attack rate to 4.6 per cent from 9 per cent without the vaccination, over 300 days.

“The results indicate that vaccination can have a substantial impact in mitigating the Covid-19 outbreak, even with limited protection against infection,” he said.

However, Abang Johari stressed, continued compliance with non-pharmaceutical interventions was still essential to achieve the impact.

He said In the United Kingdom (UK), new data by the Public Health England organisation showed that the first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine provided high levels of protection against infection and symptomatic diseases.

“I would like to stress here that the vaccine is not a cure, but a form of protection against potential infection that should help to break the chain of transmission of the coronavirus,” he said. — Borneo Post Online

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