Bivalent Covid-19 vaccine expected to arrive in Malaysia end of January 2023

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KUCHING, Dec 29: The “updated” bivalent Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty Covid-19 vaccines are expected to arrive in Malaysia by the end of next month.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah informed this when replying to a Twitter user today, who asked when the bivalent vaccine would be available as a booster, given that former Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said it would arrive in Malaysia in November.

According to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the bivalent Covid-19 vaccines contained two components of the original virus strain and that of the Omicron variant to provide broad protection against Covid-19 including cases caused by the currently circulating Omicron variant.

As the virus changes and individuals’ immunity naturally decreases over time, the updated Covid-19 vaccine booster dose can help to protect against severe illness, hospitalisation and death from Covid-19.

The Malaysia’s Drug Control Authority had on Dec 13 issued conditional approval for the bivalent vaccine which is recommended for individuals 12 years old and above, and at least three months from the completion of primary vaccination or from the last booster dose.

Apart from the updated bivalent vaccine, Malaysia is currently using Paxlovid to treat Covid-19 patients at public health facilities since April 15, 2022.

“Paxlovid is the first antiviral oral drug in Malaysia to treat Covid-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms or categories two and three with priority given to high-risk patients.

“To ensure access to more patients, the treatment (using Paxlovid) has also been extended to identified private health facilities since June 20, 2022. The provision of the drug to patients is free. However, patients are still subject to consultation charges determined by the private health facility,” Dr Noor Hisham said in a statement on Tuesday (Dec 27).

In view of the growing concerns over the surge of Covid-19 infections in China which is set to reopen its borders from Jan 8, 2023, Dr Noor Hisham emphasised that Malaysia has stepped up its preparedness and response to face a possible hike in number of daily Covid-19 cases and deaths.

“The Ministry would also ensure that all Covid-19 Assessment Centres (CAC) were ready to receive a high number of patients.

“The Ministry would closely monitor the spread of the infection in the community through the implementation of surveillance activities involving sentinel locations of influenza-like-illness (ILI) and severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) nationwide.

“It is also supported by whole genome sequencing (WGS) activities to detect new variants as well as environmental surveillance through sewage water sampling from identified locations throughout the country,” he added. — DayakDaily