Malaysia Examines Need for Booster Shots as Virus Spreads
(Bloomberg) -- Malaysia is studying if it’s necessary to give booster Covid-19 vaccine shots, as the country grapples with the fast-spreading delta variant.
An expert committee has been set up to assess the need for a third shot and is expected to give its recommendation by month-end, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said at a briefing on Wednesday.
The priority now is to focus on people who haven’t received even their first shot, he said. Only 46% of Malaysians have been fully inoculated as of Aug. 31, with states including Sabah and Perak falling behind on coverage. More vaccines will be sent their way, he said.
Malaysia isn’t alone in weighing the need for booster shots. Singapore is eyeing a third round of vaccine for some segments of its population, while Indonesia has rolled out booster shots only for its health care workers. Even so, booster plans have been decried by global health leaders calling for more equitable distribution of doses as many people around the world haven’t even got their first shot.
New cases in Malaysia have soared despite the containment measures, hitting a record 24,599 in one day late last month and turning the country into Southeast Asia’s Covid hotspot. The nation added 18,762 new infections Wednesday, taking the total number to 1.76 million.
READ: Malaysia Ready to Relax Virus Curbs in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor
The crisis led to a change in the government, and Khairy, who managed the vaccine rollout in the previous administration, was named health minister last week. More than 84% of the adult population has received at least one dose, and 64% have completed both doses, Khairy said.
Covid-19 will be treated as endemic and it is time for Malaysians to learn to live with the virus, he said. The endemic phase will allow more sectors of the economy to reopen by October, when the nation reaches herd immunity against the virus.
“I am quite positive, cautiously optimistic, hope and pray to God that in the next two months we will see light at the end of the tunnel,” Khairy said.
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