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Khairy: Spike in Covid-19 cases in Sarawak may be due to waning effects of vaccines

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 10): Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the waning of vaccine effects over time could be the reason for the spike in Covid-19 infections in Sarawak.

To address this matter, he said his ministry is studying if there is a need to provide booster vaccine shots.

Sarawak has overtaken Selangor as the state with the most daily new infections. The state has reported more than 3,000 daily new cases for five straight days. Yesterday, it logged 3,118 cases, bringing its total tally to 144,030.

Sarawak is also among the states or federal territories with the highest vaccination rates in terms of adult population coverage.

A total of 1.79 million people or 87.9% of the state's adult population had been fully inoculated as of Wednesday, the highest after the Klang Valley (98.4%) and Labuan (95.7%).

"We had a long discussion this morning about Sarawak," Khairy told a media conference. "I will be heading over to Sarawak maybe next week to discuss with the state government on what additional measures we can take to try to reduce the increasing Covid-19 transmission there."

"I have also asked the technical working group that advises on vaccine selection to quickly provide JKJAV (Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply) with recommendations on booster shots.

"Other countries have started administering booster shots especially to the elderly, the immunocompromised, healthcare workers. So, we are certainly not ruling that out," he said.

The minister added: "We are not sure what is driving the transmission in Sarawak. One possibility is the waning effectiveness of the vaccines over time which we have seen in other countries.

"What is happening in Sarawak could possibly happen in other states in a few months' time. If it is because of the waning effects of the vaccines, we have to see what the immediate measures are to stop the increased rate of [Covid-19] transmission in Sarawak and use that as a playbook for other states."

Noting that Israel previously had one of the best vaccination rates, Khairy said: "But after eight months, they started seeing a rise of Covid-19 cases. [It could be] due to the Delta variant, the effects of the opening up of the economy, as well as the waning effects of the vaccines."

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