COVID-19 Vaccine – The end of a pandemic?

By Syamimi Syaza

Months of turmoil have finally brought Malaysians to the glad tidings of COVID-19 vaccine that will soon be available in the first quarter of this year, as stated by our Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

In getting our hands on the vaccines, our country deals with Pfizer, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies originated from the States through a contract made back in November 2020.

A massive total of one million doses of vaccine can be accessed in the first batch that covers the first quarter of 2021 followed by 1.7 million doses for the next quarter, 5.8 million doses and 4.3 million doses for quarter 3 and 4 respectively. All countries receiving the vaccines will go through the same staggered procedure due to manufacturing capacity.

The much awaited inoculation is expected to be available before the end of February, putting our front liners on top of the list followed by the rest of Malaysians, free of charge. Our neighbouring countries, Singapore and Indonesia have started their vaccination programmes prior to our country due to greater resources and circumstances.

As for Indonesia, the availability of clinical trials data for Sinovac vaccine prioritise them in receiving the vaccines while low number of positive cases in Malaysia during the trial period eliminated our country as one of the trial sites as clinical trials need high infectivity rates to be successful.

Adjacent to the vaccine availability, it is no guarantee that this highly infectious virus will completely vanish within the next few years. Upon receiving the jab, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to provide protection against the virus, hence the possibility of being infected days after the vaccination. At today’s vaccine rates, it is opined that this pandemic will likely end in the next seven years.

A year into the pandemic, progressive effort has been done to ameliorate the global affliction while at the same time perpetuating lives as how they used to be. We are much more accustomed to dealing with this situation now compared to the early stages of this pervasive virus. However, one must not let their guard down yet as huge fluctuation in our country infection rates rooting from breaking quarantine orders engraved an even bigger consequences when we rocketed to three-digit cases a day from a constant two-digit and even no case at all.

This is an eye-opener on the significance of quarantine to everyone regardless of social statuses and positions. Malaysians cannot simply turn a blind eye on this consequential step that would decide for our lives conditions just to cater for temporary ease and gains. With no quarantine practices, vaccines can only do so much and with great potential would cost us more than working from home and temporary lockdowns. 

Vaccines have been one of the most crucial development in healthcare and medicine in ensuring the survival of humankind. Measles, a virus with high infection rate, comparable to COVID-19, had caused 140, 000 deaths globally. It was then declared eliminated from the United States in 2000, with absence of transmission for more than a year. This is due to highly effective vaccination programmes in the country along with great control in the American region. But there were still cases reported which originated outside of United States and occurred to those who were unvaccinated. 

The same control over COVID-19 can be achieved here in Malaysia when all parties work hand in hand with the exact same purposes, to combat this deadly virus while gaining balance in our daily routines. We are duty bound to give our very best in getting rid of COVID-19 that has been stealing joy and freedom since a year ago. 

Thorough researches and studies had been done in producing the vaccines with no major downsides, thanks to the advanced development of science. Each individual is subjected to their own opinions on the credibility of this newly created vaccine but it would do more damage by not trying. This might be our long-awaited victory, Malaysians.***

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