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MP SPEAKS | Is Muhyiddin's new vaccination target achievable?

MP SPEAKS | The new target announced by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin to vaccinate all adults by October to stem the recent surge in Covid-19 cases is highly commendable but is it achievable?

This would mean the fast-track approach in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP), including the boosting of the capacity for vaccination rate to 500,000 doses per day, to tackle the emergence of new virus variants which are more vicious.

On March 3, I had called for the acceleration of the national vaccination rollout suggesting that the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) meet and consider ways to complete the vaccination rollout earlier so that Malaysia can gain full recovery in 2021. This included giving consideration to a parallel Covid-19 vaccination programme supplied and run by the private sector alongside the government rollout.

When I took my first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at the Kuala Lumpur Health Clinic on March 16, I expressed disappointment that nothing had been done with regard to my suggestion for the acceleration of the National Covid-19 vaccination rollout to complete it earlier than the February 2022 schedule.

I called for an ambitious plan to accelerate and complete the rollout during the National Day-Malaysia Day celebrations from Aug 31-Sept 16 so that Malaysia can begin to return to normality and work on economic recovery by the fourth quarter of the year.

I called for a new strategy and approach in the immunisation programme, allowing not only online but off-line registration; roping more stakeholders into the programme, including private hospitals and the country’s general practitioners, and enabling companies, associations and voluntary organisations to help in the vaccination registration process.

The new target to fully vaccinate all adults in Malaysia by October is quite close to the target of the National Day-Malaysia Day period and I fully support it.

This is most critical as South-East Asia is facing the worst outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the Delta strain puts intense pressure on the health systems in the region.

Indonesia has reported more daily Covid-19 infections than India and Brazil – Indonesia (44,721) as compared to India (38,325) and Brazil (34,126).

As a Guardian report summed up the desperate situation in Asean: “In Malaysia, shipping containers have been sent to hospitals because their morgues are so overwhelmed. 

"In Thailand, field hospitals are being built at the capital’s two airports. In Myanmar, social media has been inundated with desperate pleas for oxygen.

“In Indonesia, the worst hit, volunteer undertakers visit homes, collecting the bodies of people who were unable to access treatment.”

We have reached an all-time high for new Covid-19 deaths yesterday – 153 deaths!

In June, 2,374 people died of Covid-19. In 18 days of July, 1,849 died of Covid-19. We are heading to exceed 3,000 deaths for July.

On July 3, I berated the Muhyiddin government for neglecting the high Covid-19 fatality rate as it is completely unacceptable for 2,374 people to die of Covid-19 in June, but a Minister treated it as a joke and accused me of being blind.

Yesterday, the worst-performing nation in the world for one whole year, the United States, had fewer daily new Covid-19 cases and Covid-19 deaths than Malaysia - an indicator of the dismal failure of Malaysia’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The United States registered a daily peak of 305,178 new Covid-19 cases on Jan 20 and a daily peak of 4,471 deaths on Jan 15 but yesterday it had 9,045 new Covid-19 cases and 31 new Covid-19 deaths as compared to 10,710 new cases and 153 deaths in Malaysia.

Can Muhyiddin explain what is happening to Malaysia’s war against the Covid-19 pandemic?

A new policy and strategy changing the war aim against the Covid-19 pandemic from “Zero Covid-19” to “Living with Covid-19” is urgently needed.

We must restore public trust and confidence and launch a truly “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” mobilisation of society, which was singularly missing in the last 18 months in the war against the Covid-19. 

The Parliamentary Select Committee for Health, Science and Innovation, which is meeting next Friday, should be entrusted the task of drafting a new policy in the war against Covid-19 to replace the National Recovery Plan and for Malaysia to make the transition from “Zero Covid-19” to “Live with Covid-19” perspective.

LIM KIT SIANG is a DAP veteran and MP for Iskandar Puteri.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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