Malaysia Dateline

Confusion over herd immunity latest sign of PN’s incompetence

After months of talk regarding herd immunity, National Coordinating Minister for Immunisation, Khairy Jamaluddin now believes that it is no longer possible.

Khairy, who spoke on the issue of herd immunity at a recent online forum said “looking at the data and the science that this may very well be endemic, we may see Covid-19 in a less threatening form but it will stay with us for quite some time.”

This isn’t anything inherently outlandish or wrong with his statement as experts have been debating herd immunity since the beginning of the pandemic due to the unpredictable nature of Covid-19.

What is shocking however, is that Khairy casually makes an announcement of this magnitude while the rest of PN ministers are seemingly still pining their hopes on achieving herd immunity.

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For example, Prime Minister Tan Sri Mahiaddin Yassin just this month has reinstated PN’s objective to achieve herd immunity by vaccinating 80 per cent of the population by the end of the year in his recent national live telecast.

“Our ability to achieve herd immunity will depend on how many of our people have received the vaccinations” he said.

Health Minister Adham Baba has also confirmed that Malaysia had ordered enough vaccines to cover 109 per cent of its population who qualify for inoculation with the aim of achieving herd immunity against Covid-19 by December.

What’s more, the Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin claimed that the reopening of Parliament would only take place once herd immunity is achieved.

DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang questioned Khairy’s pivot, and raised the question “Has the Prime Minister and Cabinet abandoned the objective to achieve herd immunity against Covid-19 or is it just the position of Khairy Jamaluddin?”

The clear contradiction between Khairy’s statement and the rest of PN ministers may indicate a lack of communication within the party or something more sinister.

If the government is fully aware that herd immunity can’t be achieved, why hasn’t an official announcement been made? More importantly, how long have they known?

Opposition MPs have been ringing the alarm about the improbability of Malaysia achieving herd immunity, including DAP’s Dr. Boo Cheng Hau who previously claimed that PN’s targeted date of herd immunity is unrealistic.

“With the targeted 150,000 thousand doses of vaccine being administered daily, Malaysia is only able to achieve herd immunity with 80% of the population fully vaccinated towards the end of April 2022” he said.

There’s also the matter of who’s to blame for the country’s inability to reach herd immunity. Is it purely a matter of new strains or would we have been able to reach herd immunity if PN had managed to secure more vaccines?

Khairy has not taken responsibility for Malaysia’s slow vaccination rate but instead points the finger at countries like Canada, United Kingdom and the United States, because he claims those countries had “hoarded vaccines”.

“This is a story about vaccine inequity, where it’s not the capacity of vaccination that we cannot ramp up but rather it is the supplies,” he said.

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak doesn’t seem to be buying the excuse and blames PN’s poor negotiation skills for Malaysia’s dwindling vaccine supply.

Najib said Malaysia was eligible to be given priority for these vaccines from the US. He noted that Thailand had already announced that the US had agreed to help them get the vaccines despite the nation’s less dire Covid-19 situation.

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim on the other hand has called the inadequate Covid-19 vaccine supply the biggest failure of Prime Minister Mahiaddin Yassin’s government.