Heterologous vaccination method recommended for booster dose

KUALA LUMPUR: A recommendation has been made to the government to proceed with the heterologous vaccination plan or the use of a vaccine different from the original vaccine received by an individual, through the administration of booster doses starting this month.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the recommendation was made by the Technical Sub-Committee chaired by the Director of the Institute of Clinical Research, National Institute of Health (NIH), Dr Kalaiarasu M. Peariasamy to the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee (JKJAV) at a meeting last week.

“A study on the safety (of heterologous vaccination) has already been implemented and it is recommended that we continue with our heterologous vaccination programme,” he said in reply to Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun (Bersatu-Beaufort) in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Prior to this, the government had considered the method of mixing two vaccines as part of the implementation of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Program (PICK) to increase antibody neutralisation and the effectiveness of the vaccines as done by many other countries.

Sarawak had also begun giving a booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine this month, making it the first state to kick off the initiative with a focus on high-risk groups aged 60 and above, as well as those with serious comorbidities.

Meanwhile, in reply to Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal (Warisan-Semporna) on the Covid-19 situation in Sarawak, Khairy said the ministry was very concerned with the state still recording a high number of daily cases even though most of them were from Category 1 to 3.

He said several factors may have caused the situation, including the early opening of economic sectors from other states, the effects of vaccinations which may have begun to decline and the need for booster doses for certain groups.

“We also see the trend of Covid-19 infection that involves the detection of new clusters in longhouses, detection of a new variant, types of vaccines and so on. We will take appropriate measures to ensure that the infection rate in Sarawak can be reduced,” he said.

Khairy said the Ministry of Health (MOH) had sent a National Rapid Response Task Force under the Deputy Health director-general Datuk Dr Chong Chee Keong to Kuching and Sibu to see how the capacity of the hospitals, especially the intensive care unit (ICU) beds, could be increased to accommodate Category 4 and 5 patients.

“In a situation of escalating cases, it is very important for the public health system to provide ICU beds. This is an early step for other states to prepare to respond to any possible new wave or variant,” he said. – Bernama