JOHOR BARU, Sept 3 ― Johor DAP’s Dr Boo Cheng Hau warned that it was too soon for the government to start treating Covid-19 as endemic in the country.
He noted unresolved issues with Covid-19, such as the vaccination of minors as well as scientific studies on highly transmissible and deadlier variants.
“It is premature to declare that Malaysia is ready to ‘live with Covid-19’ and consider it as endemic when only 46.7 per cent of the country’s adult population is fully vaccinated (as of September 2).
“There are other problems in being too optimistic without correcting the following gaps in our Covid-18 pandemic‘s management,” Dr Boo said in a Facebook post today.
The 57-year-old general medical practitioner, who has been practising for more than 30 years, was responding to a recent news report that the government will be preparing to guide the public on living with Covid-19 as the virus becomes endemic.
Dr Boo explained that at present, mono-antigen based vaccines such as Pfizer’s Comirnaty has reported that its effectiveness was 39 per cent lower against the Delta variant of concern (VOC).
In addition to that, he said another variant of interest (VOI), Mu, has emerged in South America.
“There isn’t adequate viral genome sequencing done in Malaysia to support or neither rebut the possibility of the emergence of new variants that may render existing vaccines becoming less effective,” he said.
Dr Boo pointed out that there is also no motivation to carry out local scientific data collection, including the effectiveness of various vaccines in the midst of new VOCs and comparing them against the various vaccines available.
“It is over-optimistic to presume that there are no more transmissible and deadlier VOCs that would have ever arisen locally,” he said, strengthening the notion that Malaysia is not prepared yet to shift from treating Covid-19 as a pandemic into being endemic.
Dr Boo said that it was also unlikely for the country to achieve the 70 per cent vaccination for herd immunity by the end of October as the government did not have any immediate plans to vaccinate adolescents and children below the age of 18.
He cautioned that there is an increasing number of severe Covid-19 illness in the younger age group as well as those brought-in-dead (BID).
On Wednesday, new Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin was reported to have said that steps are being taken by the government to prepare a set of new standard operating procedures (SOP) to guide the public on living with Covid-19 as the virus becomes endemic,
The Rembau MP said this was in line with the shift in the government’s perception towards Covid-19 from being a pandemic to becoming endemic.