The Academy of Medicine of Malaysia applauds the milestones achieved by the Malaysian government and the Ministry of Health (MOH) in the National COVID-19 Immunization Program (PICK) in combating the resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
To date, 9.37 billion doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered globally and 3.92 billion people or 50.3% of the world’s population have been vaccinated since December 2020.
Malaysia’s CovidNow data shows that 78.6% of the total population and 97.8% of the adult population are fully vaccinated.
Meanwhile, a concerted effort is currently being made to achieve an equally high coverage of the booster dose to mitigate a potential Omicron surge, with 35.4% of adults having received booster doses since October 2021.
Malaysia currently ranks among the top 20 countries in the world for vaccine coverage, including booster doses.
Covid vaccines save lives
The RECoVaM Study, a real-world local study led by the Institute of Clinical Research revealed that chances of getting infected or dying among vaccine booster recipients is 3-4 times lower than those who are double vaccinated.
Unvaccinated individuals, on the other hand, are nine times more likely to be infected and 62 times more likely to die, compared to individuals who have received booster doses.
We support MOH’s ongoing efforts in expanding the vaccination program for majority of the public and the recent conditional approval for vaccination of children aged 5 to 11 years old, thus facilitating a safe return to school.
Despite previous concerns on the risk of vaccine-induced myocarditis, this appears to be rare among children aged 5-11 years; only 11 verified reports have been received by VAERS, a database for reporting possible safety issues in US-licensed vaccines after administration of more than eight million doses.
Meanwhile, 65% of the reported cases involve adolescents and young male adults aged 12-24 years old where symptoms resolve with conservative management.
Although vaccinations show a modest impact on reducing transmission and breakthrough infections are still possible, scientific evidence has clearly proven its role in mitigating the COVID-19 outbreak, reducing the risks of severe disease, hospitalizations and intensive care, even against the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
Recent data from the United Kingdom suggests that mRNA boosters are 88% effective against hospitalization due to Omicron, the variant of concern behind the global surge in cases.
The link between COVID-19 cases and severity outcomes is also notably weaker in countries that have achieved higher vaccination and booster rates.
It is a remarkable scientific feat that after more than 300 million cases globally, vaccines in 2020 showed 95% effectiveness with two doses (at two months) against hospitalizations by the ancestral strain, are now displaying 94% effectiveness with three doses (at two months) against hospitalizations.
We must not be swayed by purveyors of misinformation and pseudoscience which may unfortunately be from the medical fraternity itself.
The nation cannot afford a reinstatement of movement restrictions, for economic, social, educational and mental health reasons.
In preparing for the Omicron wave, it is crucial for those who are eligible, to get themselves fully vaccinated and boosted.
“Lindungi Diri, Lindungi Semua”.
(The Academy of Medicine of Malaysia embracing 12 Colleges and 23 Chapters, is a registered body representing medical specialists in Malaysia.)