Vaccine shipment and registrations are the two biggest bottlenecks that could impede vaccination trajectory — EMIR Research

KUALA LUMPUR (June 16): The Covid-19 vaccination rate in Malaysia is currently on track for the country to achieve herd immunity by the end of this year, but the “two biggest bottlenecks” that could impede the current trajectory are vaccine shipments and local registrations, according to think tank EMIR Research.

EMIR Research head of science and technology Ameen Kamal said that in order for the herd immunity target to be achieved, the entire vaccine doses — which is assumed to be 59.92 million doses for 27 million people — need to be completely administered between October and November this year under an “increasing vaccination rate scenario”.

Under this scenario, Ameen projected that a potential increasing rate scenario for the daily average administered doses per month could be as follows: 150,000 in the second half of June, 250,000 in July, 350,000 in August, and 400,000 from September onwards, which he assumed to be the ceiling capacity.

"At the moment, things are looking well on the way towards this projection given recent reports of a new peak of 215,876 administered doses on June 15. Increased number of vaccination centres and decentralisation strategies such as empowering general practitioner clinics, private institutions, drive-through centres and use of government vehicles for vaccination campaigns to reach rural areas and elderlies are all expected to increase this capacity greatly," he said in a statement today.

However, Ameen highlighted that this projection may be dragged by the two biggest bottlenecks which are vaccine shipments and local registrations.

He noted that Malaysia has ordered vaccination doses that could cover up to 125% of the population, but maintained that this does not solve the speed of the supply issue.

"The recent announcement of the conditional emergency approval for Sinopharm and Janssen (J&J) vaccines can potentially open more vaccine suppliers to be negotiated and purchased from. However, even this may not solve the issue in the near term because of the overall global production limits.

"If for whatever reason we are not able to increase vaccination rate, a 'flat rate' (instead of an increasing rate) of say, an average 200,000 vaccine daily administered doses can set the target back to the second quarter next year," he warned.

On vaccine registrations, Ameen suggested for the government consider automatic registrations.

"Automatic registrations, or 'jab-first-register later' strategies may face public backlash, especially without proper communications with the public. This should only be considered with really strong reasonings and circumstances that can be effectively communicated with the public," he said.

"Also note that undocumented foreign population are not included in timeline projections, which, subject to their actual numbers, could add one to two months in estimates, and must be included in the vaccination programme. No one is safe until everyone is safe," Ameen added.

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