KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 — Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has announced that Malaysia will be reducing the vaccine dose interval for AstraZeneca to just six weeks. The shorter interval between the first and second dose will be implemented starting October 1, 2021.
Menteri Kesihatan, @Khairykj memaklumkan jarak masa antara suntikan pertama dan kedua vaksin AstraZeneca akan dipendekkan dari 9 minggu kepada 6 minggu bermula dari 1 Oktober. #AWANInews pic.twitter.com/mB1YNg9pwk— 🇲🇾Astro AWANI🇲🇾 (@501Awani) September 24, 2021
According to Khairy, the decision to reduce the vaccine dose interval is to provide convenience to individuals that have gotten the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. AstraZeneca has the longest dose interval among all two-dose vaccines under the National Immunisation Programme. As a comparison, both Pfizer and Sinovac vaccines have a shorter three-week interval. On top of that, an individual is only considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving their second shot.
When Malaysia started administering the AstraZeneca vaccine in May, the original plan was to implement a 12-week interval as it offered a higher 82.4 per cent efficacy. However, due to rising Covid-19 cases in July, it was then decided to reduce the dosing interval to 9 weeks so that more individuals can get fully vaccinated earlier.
The World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation (SAGE) recommends an interval of eight to 12 weeks for AstraZeneca. According to the WHO, longer dose intervals within the eight to 12 weeks range are associated with greater vaccine efficacy. Based on the Ministry of Health’s guideline for AstraZeneca, a shorter interval of 28 days may be observed when rapid protection is required.