BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN – The government is aiming to restart first dose vaccinations this Thursday after receiving a donation of 100,000 doses of Sinopharm from China.

Health minister YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham Hj Jaafar said MoH is aiming to vaccinate 4,000 people per day, with supplies anticipated to last for two weeks. 

On September 1, the health ministry had to temporarily halt provision of first dose vaccinations — a major setback in its battle against a deadly second wave of COVID-19 — and was forced to postpone more than 4,000 appointments as supplies ran low.

The fresh supply of vaccines from China is hoped to restart the momentum needed to inoculate at least 70 percent of the population by the end of the year.

Speaking at a daily press briefing, YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham the ministry will give priority to individuals who had their previous appointments cancelled. For people who have not yet made a booking on the BruHealth app, a limited number of slots will be opened to the general public. 

He added that it will take a few days for Evyd — the developer of the BruHealth app — to finalise the number of slots available.

When asked about additional vaccine procurement to ease the shortage, the minister said the government is still in talks with other countries regarding a potential vaccine swap, and that an announcement will be made when an agreement is reached.

Sinopharm is one of four COVID vaccines approved for use in Brunei’s vaccine programme, alongside AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer. Photo: Faiq Airudin/The Scoop

75% of COVID cases unvaccinated

MoH also released data on Monday that showed that 75.6 percent of COVID cases reported since August 7 were unvaccinated — that’s 2,890 people.

There have been a number of breakthrough infections – 16 percent of positive cases (611 people) had been partially vaccinated with one dose while 8.4 percent (321 people) were fully vaccinated with two doses.

The health minister said the majority of people with breakthrough infections had been vaccinated with the Moderna vaccine, which has made up the bulk of vaccine supply. He added that there were also breakthrough infections for the AstraZeneca and Sinopharm vaccines.

Most people with breakthrough infections have mild symptoms, he said, however there are two vaccinated patients under close monitoring at the Intensive Care Unit.

The minister added that all patients in critical care were unvaccinated. 

“So it is obvious that the vaccine can help to control the symptoms and lower the risk of being admitted into the ICU.” 

As of September 13, 52 percent of the population has received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, while 31 percent have been fully vaccinated.

Health minister YB Dato Dr Hj Mohd Isham. Photo: Rasidah Hj Abu Bakar/The Scoop

Two COVID patients die

On Monday the health ministry also confirmed the death of two coronavirus patients at the National Isolation Centre.

The first, a 42-year-old woman, developed a lung infection as a result of COVID-19. The second, a 77-year-old man died of bacterial septicaemia, and was not classified as a COVID-related death.

A total of 160 new cases were reported in the past 24 hours; and four new household clusters were identified. 

There are 73 active clusters in Brunei, with 3,984 cases reported since August 7, when the current outbreak began.

With 107 recoveries recorded on Monday, the number of people with active infections stands at 1,542. 

YB Dato Dr Hj Md Isham added that MoH will bring 39 people to court for breaching their quarantine orders. They were caught breaking quarantine during a police roadblock.