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June 28, 2021

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Introduction

A number of vaccines had been used in the National Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Immunisation Programme in Malaysia to fight the pandemic. Pfizer, AstraZeneca and CoronaVac are the Covid 19 vaccines currently available in Malaysia. These vaccines are deemed to be safe and effective in preventing the serious complications of COVID-19. In this article, we will explore the types of COVID-19 vaccines in Malaysia, efficacy and side effects of them.

Types of vaccine

A COVID-19 vaccine is a safe and effective way in preventing the serious illness and complications from COVID-19. There are several types of vaccines available in the market:

  • Viral vector vaccine
    • This vaccine uses a safe virus to deliver part of the virus to stimulate our immune system.
  • Inactivated virus
    • Inactivated virus vaccine composed of a weakened or dead version of virus. They interact with the immune system without causing the disease itself.
  • mRNA vaccine
    • A mRNA vaccine involves delivering a section of genetic material that instructs our body to produce a specific protein similar to the virus.

Pfizer

Pfizer is the vaccine developed in the collaboration of BioNTech, a german company and Pfizer, an American pharmaceutical company. Pfizer is the first batch of vaccine landed in Malaysia, involving the first phase of National COVID-19 immunisation Programme for healthcare workers.

Pfizer is a mRNA vaccine which requires 2 shots of 21 days apart. Based on the clinical trials, Pfizer is shown to be 95% effective at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 illness.

Pain, redness and swelling injection site, headache, muscle ache, fever and chill, tiredness and nausea are the commonly reported side effects. More people experience the side effects after the second shot.

AstraZeneca

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. The registration for AstraZeneca opt-in vaccination has received a tremendous response from Malaysian and it’s fully booked until further notice.

AstraZeneca is a viral vector vaccine from the United Kingdom, requiring two doses to achieve full immunity. Two doses are given in a gap of 8 to 12 weeks. Research showed that it has an efficacy of 63.09% against symptomatic COVID-19 infection.

Common side effects after vaccination with AstraZeneca will be pain at injection site, headache, muscle ache, low energy and fever. It is usually mild and goes away after 2 days.

Some rare but serious side effects will be life-threatening allergic reaction, blood clot and reduced blood platelets count.

CoronaVac (commonly known as Sinovac)

CoronaVac, commonly known as Sinovac vaccine, is a COVID-19 vaccine developed by the China company Sinovac Biotech. The first batch of Sinovac vaccines arrived in Malaysia in May 2021 and was ready to be distributed nationwide.

Sinovac is an injection of inactivated coronavirus in two doses with an interval of 2-4 weeks between doses. Sinovac is claimed to have an efficacy of 51% against symptomatic COVID-19 infection with 100% against hospitalisation and severe infection of COVID-19.

Common side effects after injection are similar to other vaccinations. Injection site pain, headache and tiredness are mild and go away in a few days. Rare side effects from SinoVac vaccination are muscle spasm, nose bleed, swelling of eyes, stomach distension, constipation, red eyes and hot flashes.

Conclusion

COVID-19 vaccines aim to prepare your immune system for coronavirus without having to experience illness. Pfizer, Sinovac and AstraZeneca are the vaccines currently available in Malaysia. They are safe and effective to protect us from the serious illness of COVID-19.