Covid-19: Bivalent vaccine effective against XBB, Omicron, says Khairy

Covid-19: Bivalent vaccine effective against XBB, Omicron, says Khairy

PUTRAJAYA: The Pfizer Covid-19 bivalent vaccine that Malaysia will be receiving in November is effective against both the Omicron and the XBB sub-variants, says Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

“Malaysia has placed orders for the bivalent vaccine from Pfizer,” he said at a press conference on Monday (Oct 31).

Khairy added that Malaysia has changed its existing order to the newer vaccines, hence it does not involve additional procurement.

He advised those who fall in the high risk categories to take their second booster shots instead of waiting for the bivalent vaccine to arrive.

ALSO READ: Covid-19: Malaysia getting Pfizer’s new bivalent vaccine in November, says KJ

“It is also effective against the Omicron variant,” he added.

The bivalent vaccines provide protection against the original SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Omicron sub-variants such as the BA.4 and BA.5, which were previously said to be vaccine-resistant.

Malaysia has reported four locally transmitted cases of the XBB sub-variant consisting of three men and one woman aged between 25 and 51 years old. The cases were detected in Selangor and Negeri Sembilan.

All cases belong to category 2, which are moderate symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose, with one case being a re-infection.

ALSO READ: Malaysia experiencing small Covid-19 wave due to XBB subvariant, says Health Ministry

Khairy added that the take-up for second booster shots is still low, with only over 519,658 people having received their shots.

He also encouraged those travelling overseas for holidays to also get their second booster shots.

The second booster shot can be taken four to six months after the first booster shot.

Khairy said Malaysia is experiencing a small surge in Covid-19 cases, adding that it is uncertain if the wave will worsen.

“However, in terms of severity, we found that at this time, it is not worrying. The Health Ministry has taken note of the trend of rising cases,” he said while reminding the public to be cautious.

The number of cases for the Epidemiological Week (EW) 43 (Oct 23 to 29) has increased by 16.5%, to 16,917 from 14,525 cases in EW 42. Admission to Intensive Care Units has increased by 2% in EW43 compared to the preceding week.

He also noted that the rise in Covid-19 cases in Singapore due to XBB could also affect the trend of cases in Malaysia due to the movement of people between the two countries.

“The bottom line is that cases are rising slightly, hospitalisations are going up slightly. Nothing to worry about, the situation is under control but we must take precautions because we are in the transition to the endemic phase,” he said.

“There will be an ebb and flow in cases, now it is on the rise. So the community needs to step up and we need to take precautions by wearing masks and of course by practicing all other measures that we are used to now such as TRIIS (Test, Report, Inform, Isolate, Seek) and getting treatment,” he added.

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