KLANG (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, XINHUA) - Just because the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is milder and less deadly does not mean people should try to contract the coronavirus to supposedly achieve herd immunity or refuse the vaccine, said Malaysian Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
He said each individual's response to the virus can vary wildly.
"We don't know how the effects of the virus will be on a patient, whether he is vaccinated or not, or how the 'long Covid' syndrome is going to be.
"There's still no scientific proof to say that getting infected with the Omicron variant will give us herd immunity.
"We know Omicron is milder, thank God, but it doesn't mean we should go out there and get infected," he said after opening the national level GO-NGO Model KK 2.0 programme to end HIV infections at the Pandamaran health clinic on Sunday (Jan 16).
The programme is a collaboration between the government and non-governmental organisations that utilise government health clinics nationwide to reach out to and rehabilitate patients with the human immunodeficiency virus.
Mr Khairy was responding to a question about a virologist's statement that Omicron's high transmissibility and yet milder symptoms and lower mortality rate could help build herd immunity in societies.
Professor Gert van Zyl at the department of medical virology of Stellenbosch University in South Africa told Anadolu Agency that due to its high transmissibility, Omicron could help build herd immunity as it has been observed in people who previously recovered from the coronavirus, as well as those who have been vaccinated.
When asked, Mr Khairy reiterated that it has been scientifically proven that any Covid-19 infection would increase one's immunity.
"That's a natural infection. But do not use that argument to get Covid-19. That's very silly," he added.
"The ministry's message is simple, you do not want to catch Covid-19. Regardless of what variant it is. Don't catch the virus intentionally," he added.
Malaysia reported another 3,074 new Covid-19 infections as at Saturday, bringing the national total to 2,805,337, according to the health ministry.
Among the new cases, 319 were imported cases, and 2,755 were locally transmitted, data released on the ministry's website showed.
Another 19 more deaths have been reported, bringing the death toll to 31,781.