Malaysia developing own Covid-19 vaccines

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is developing vaccines for Covid-19 amid criticism over the allegedly slow pace of its vaccination drive.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said Malaysia is in the process of developing two types of Covid-19 vaccines - a ribonucleic acid (RNA) vaccine or messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine and an inactivated vaccine.

This, he said was in the hopes of helping to accelerate the country's Covid-19 National Immunisation Programme (NIP) and towards achieving Malaysia's herd immunity goal by year-end.

He said a team of researchers from the ministry's Institute for Medical Research Malaysia (IMR) is in the works of developing the vaccines.

"The two types of vaccines in development are ribonucleic acid messengers (mRNA) and inactivated vaccine.

"We hope this would increase the vaccine capacity besides preparing Malaysia for future developmental capacity of vaccines in addition to preparing Malaysia to face future pandemics," he shared on his Facebook page today.

According to the United States' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mRNA vaccines are a new type of vaccine to protect against infectious diseases.

mRNA vaccines, it said, teach the cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response inside human bodies, which produces antibodies and protects humans from getting infected if the real virus enters the body.

Inactivated vaccines, meanwhile, use the killed version of the germ that causes a disease. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, inactivated vaccines usually do not provide immunity (protection) that is as strong as live vaccines, hence recipients may need several doses over time (booster shots) in order to develop ongoing immunity against diseases.

On June 12, health experts called for the government to broaden its Covid-19 vaccine portfolio to include other vaccines to speed up the inoculation drive instead of relying on existing vaccine sources.

Experts said supply issues due to purported vaccine hoarding by wealthy nations would prolong the pandemic as new variants continued to spread, which would affect Malaysia's target of reaching herd immunity by year-end.

They believe this could put the nation in an endless loop of lockdowns with a damaging effect on livelihoods and the economy.

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