The Health Ministry has decided to further reduce the second-dose interval for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine by another three weeks. Effective from 1 October, the interval between the first and second dose will be reduced from nine weeks to six weeks.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said this is to make it easier for those who are given the AstraZeneca vaccine to complete their dosage. Back in July, the government had already cut the waiting period between doses from 12 weeks to nine weeks.
Despite the reduction, AstraZeneca still has the longest interval period as opposed to Pfizer’s 21-day interval and Sinovac’s two-to-four week period. That being said, a new report by the Health Ministry might point to the Oxford-developed vaccine being worth waiting for as it was found to have the highest rate of protection against death from the virus, although its counterparts are not far behind.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends an interval of 8-to-12 weeks for the AstraZeneca shot as that range is associated with greater vaccine efficacy. A study in The Lancet found that an interval of less than six weeks gave 55.1% efficacy at protecting against any symptoms, 59.9% for six-to-eight weeks, and the efficacy rose to 81.3% when the interval was 12 weeks or longer. Malaysia now joins Victoria, Australia as one of the few places that administer a six-week gap for the AstraZeneca vaccine.