KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 1): Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Malaysia will accelerate the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccine booster doses to 150,000 per day due to the emergence of the Omicron variant.
He said Omicron — first detected in South Africa on Nov 24 — spreads faster and carries higher risk of reinfection than other variants of concern (VOCs).
"I have instructed that the capacity to administer booster doses be increased from 120,000 to 150,000 a day.
"It will then be gradually increased until it reaches 200,000 per day," Khairy said at a media briefing on Wednesday (Dec 1).
Latest data on the Ministry of Health's (MoH) COVIDNOW portal showed that 122,898 booster doses were administered on Tuesday, bringing the total number of booster shots given nationwide to 2,457,510 so far.
Meanwhile, 25,850,878 people or 79.2% of the country's population had received at least their first dose, including 25,398,734 or 77.8% who are fully vaccinated.
The roll-out of the Covid 19 booster shot in Malaysia currently prioritises people aged 40 years and above, people aged 18 years and above with concomitant diseases, employees and residents of long-term care facilities, pregnant women and people who need the booster shot to travel abroad.
The country is using the Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines for the booster shot.
Follow our Covid-19 vaccination tracker to see where we are in the race to herd immunity.
Asked if the country plans to buy more Covid-19 vaccine doses to deal with the Omicron variant, Khairy said: "It is too early to draw conclusions. If the existing Covid-19 vaccines are not effective against the new variant, the MoH will make a decision soon.
"But the current strategy is to use the existing vaccines that have been approved by the NPRA (National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency) and CITF (Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force) as booster doses.
"It is better to use what you have and, of course, wait for additional data on the effectiveness of the existing vaccines against the VOC," he said.