THAILAND and Indonesia are the latest to consider booster shots for recipients of Sinovac vaccine, after Turkey and United Arab Emirates.
But the challenges facing Southeast Asia are much bigger. Many countries in the region rely heavily on Chinese vaccines due to tight supplies of Western jabs and have low vaccination rates of less than 10 per cent.
They are also battling a record-breaking surge in new cases and deaths, led by the highly contagious Delta variant, while rising infections among medical workers despite being fully immunised with the Sinovac shots have stretched already thin health care systems.
Thailand’s health ministry said in Bangkok on Sunday 11 July 2021, more than 600 medical workers who received two doses of the inactivated Sinovac vaccine have been infected with Covid-19, as authorities weigh giving booster doses to raise immunity.
Of the 677,348 Thai medical personnel who received two doses of Sinovac, 618 became infected, health ministry data from April to July showed. A nurse has died and another medical worker is in critical condition.
An expert panel has recommended a third dose to trigger immunity for medical workers who are at risk, senior health official Sopon Iamsirithawon, told a news briefing on Sunday.
In Indonesia, the death of 10 doctors who had been fully vaccinated with Sinovac this month, has prompted health experts to consider an alternative third dose to boost immunity.
About 90 per cent of Indonesia’s 160,000 doctors have been vaccinated with the Sinovac vaccine, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing figures provided by the Indonesian Medical Association’s (IMA) Covid-19 mitigation group.
In Singapore, those who received Sinovac vaccination are omitted from the national vaccination tally, with the government saying there is still little data on the vaccine’s efficacy against Covid-19 variants of concern.
As of July 3, a total of 17,296 people in Singapore had received one dose of the Sinovac vaccine.
In Malaysia, Pharmaniaga Bhd which is the sole distributor of its Covid-19 vaccine in the country – both in fill-and-finish and finished forms- is expected to deliver 12 mllion doses of the vacccine this month.