SINCE early this year, the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc around the world. By mid-November, cases around the globe had reached 50 million with more than one million deaths.
But there is a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel when BioNtech and Pflizer announced that preliminary results show their vaccine is 90% effective in protecting against Covid-19 infection. Gamaleya Institute Russia revealed that preliminary phase 3 clinical trials showed its Sputnik V vaccine to be 92% effective. The good news don’t stop there as Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine’s interim data shows 94.5% effectiveness in protection against Covid-19. These news warrant celebration, but many challenges await.
Malaysia’s participation in Covax facility will allow 10% of the population to gain access to a Covid-19 vaccine. However, according to World Health Organisation, at least 60-70% of the population need to be vaccinated in order to reach herd immunity and break the chain of Covid-19 transmission. Put it into current figures, 19.6 million to 22.9 million Malaysians need to be vaccinated before life can revert to the pre-Covid-19 era.
The government aims to kick-start Covid-19 vaccination by the first quarter of 2021. But how long would it take to immunise the numbers required to break the chain of transmission?
Storage, transportation and distribution of vaccines will also be challenging tasks because some may need ultra-low temperature storage.
Although the good news about the Covid-19 vaccines has given us hope for a return to the normal pre-pandemic life, it will take time. Meanwhile, the best strategy to prevent Covid-19 is by practicing 3W – Wash hand, Wear Mask and Warn others, and 3C – avoid Crowded place, Confined space and Close conversation. Don’t let our guard down yet.
Dr Gan Rick Kye