The coordinator of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK), Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has announced that the government is already in talks with vaccine manufacturers to provide booster shots in 2022. He also said during the session at Parliament yesterday that the public will likely be able to get the booster shots for free.
However, it is not known whether that would apply to all vaccines though, since his remark focused on the fact that Pfizer is currently only selling its COVID-19 vaccine to governments and not private markets. “That is why two weeks ago I began negotiations with vaccine companies, especially Pfizer-BioNTech, for Malaysia to finalise procurements for 2022 in the near future,” said the minister.
He added that the government will need to approve this and is also considering mix-and-match vaccines. Khairy’s winding-up speech in the Dewan Rakyat also noted that many countries are making reservations for additional vaccine doses in preparation for 2022 as research has shown that booster shots will be needed in the future to strengthen immunity.
Mikael Dolsten, Pfizer’s chief scientific officer, had said that a third dose would be needed within six to 12 months as studies show that the efficacy already drops from 96% to 84% in the first two months. Pfizer also released new data today showing that a third dose boosts protection against the Delta variant by five times more. It has also been reported that antibodies produced by the China-backed Sinovac vaccine declined by half every 40 days, according to a joint study between Thailand’s Thammasat University and the National Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology.
The minister added that South Korea and Germany have started mixing different vaccine brands due to supply disruption. South Korea has found that the AstraZeneca-Pfizer combination produced six times as many neutralising antibodies compared to two doses of AstraZeneca alone while the German Standing Committee on Vaccination took a very strong stance and said that people who receive a first dose of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine “should get an mRNA vaccine as their second dose, regardless of their age,”.
On another hand, a UK study showed similar results but Britain has yet to pull the trigger as they have a stable supply of vaccines. Our northern neighbours, Thailand has also announced that they will be administering AstraZeneca as the second dose for those who received Sinovac for their first dose which is going to be the first time that a mix-and-match will be done through a combination of Chinese and Western-developed vaccines.