Self-Testing and Antivirals – Current and Potential Additions to the New Normal

By Michelle Ng

Having lived with Covid-19 for more than a year now, many of us would know the basics to protect ourselves and the people around us from the virus – wear good masks, wash hands, physical distance, ensure good ventilation indoors, try as best possible to conduct activities outdoors.

Of course, with vaccination, we were offered an additional layer of protection. Despite the hesitance during the start of the national vaccination programme, uptake appears to be overall encouraging.

So as the economy opens up, what other tools are there for us to keep us safe? We know that vaccination reduces hospitalisation and transmission rates, but there is still a possibility of contracting Covid-19. What about people who cannot be vaccinated due to medical reasons?

Thankfully, we now have home test kits at our disposal. There is still much to be done to get its price reduced so that is remains accessible to the community at large. At present, however, it will go some ways in keeping us safe and opening up the economy.

An example was the Selangor State Assembly that has just passed. All State Assemblyman had to report their home test kit results daily to the State Assembly’s office. Only Assemblymen who test negative are allowed to take part in the proceedings.

The same model can also be used for events. Each test only requires 15 minutes for the results to be produced. With good logistics, testing before programmes can be done.

Similarly, companies can organise for employees who cannot be vaccinated to be tested periodically.

What’s important is for us to self-report our results in MySejahtera – whether positive or negative – as a matter of accountability and personal record.

I would also like to take this time to remind Subangites that if you fall into the B40 category, and you are found to be in close contact with a Covid-19 positive patient, my office will provide these kits to you for free.

Separately, the new talk in the Covid-19 world is Covid antivirals pills, the trials of which are showing promising results. Antivirals are given to Covid-19 patients, and trials show that it can cut the chances of hospitalisation by half.

What needs to be done in this respect is for the Malaysian government to not repeat the same late procurement as they did with vaccines. We should be getting ourselves into the system now, and when trials prove these antivirals to be effective, already be in a position to purchase them.

With the rapid development of science and technology to help us cope with this endemic, I am hopeful that with a dose of responsibility that we all must abide to, Malaysia will soon see better days.