Ask a Specialist: COVID-19 Vaccine with Prof. Sibrandes Poppema

Prof. Poppema delves into the science of the vaccine, herd immunity and important facts on vaccination. Tune in and get the answers to some burning questions you may have about the COVID-19 vaccine.

by Raihan Rahman

As of May 2021, Malaysia has administered over 2.6 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from its first rollout in March. While the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) is looking to ramp up vaccination efforts, vaccine hesitancy and misinformation continues to spread online and influencing vaccination decisions. Prof. Sibrandes Poppema, a specialist in Immunopathology, the study of the immune system in relation to a disease, answers some lingering questions surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine.

In this LIVE episode of the Homage Web Series, Prof. Poppema delves into the science of the vaccine, herd immunity and important facts on vaccination. Tune in and get the answers to some burning questions you may have about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Professor Sibrandes Poppema is the President of Sunway University and the Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah Distinguished Professor and Advisor to the Chancellor. He is a specialist in Immunopathology and is one of the top 2% of highly cited authors in the world in the field of Immunology. Previously, he was the President of the University of Groningen, a global top 100 university in the Netherlands and the Dean and Vice President of the University Medical Centre Groningen, one of the top medical centres in the world.

Currently, President Poppema is driving the establishment of the Sunway Medical School and promoting scientific and educational collaborations of Sunway University with the University of Cambridge, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and several institutions in Singapore.

Transcript: Part 1, Part 2

[02:03] What does vaccine mean? Is it meant to be 100% protection? | [09:50] Can a person still be a COVID-19 carrier even after they are vaccinated? | [11:03] Why is the vaccine designed in a way where people receive two injection shots instead of one? | [14:22] Is there any adverse impact if the second dose is not received on time? | [17:16] What is herd immunity and in your opinion, why is it so important? | [20:00] If someone is taking the AstraZeneca vaccine as the first dose, can that person take another vaccine type e.g. Pfizer for the second dose? | [22:36] Do the vaccines brand really matter? | [24:25] Is the vaccine suitable for pregnant or breastfeeding women? | [25:43] Is the AstraZeneca vaccine suitable for young people between 18-25 years? | [27:47] What is the efficacy rate and why does it differ between vaccines? | [34:47] Is AstraZeneca safe for smokers and pregnant women, as the blood clot formation is more prominent in these groups of people? | [37:03] Some people get side effects but some others do not. How will we know the vaccines are actually working? | [39:45] If I’ve had history of anaphylactic reaction towards bird nest, is it advisable to take AZ vaccine? | [41:36] How long will vaccine immunity last? [49:35] If I have a severe allergy to medication, can I get vaccinated? [50:45] Is there an issue using two different brands of vaccines for the 1st and 2nd dose?


Adenovirus-vaccine: A vaccine that uses an altered version of the virus that can no longer harm you.

Herd immunity: A form of protection where a larger percentage of the population has become immune to an infection.

AstraZeneca vaccine: A viral vector vaccine developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca to protect the body from the COVID-19 virus.

Clinical trials: Experiments or studies performed on human beings to test the effectiveness and safety of a medication.

Immune response: The way the human body reacts and responds to defend itself against bacteria, viruses that are foreign.

Coagulation: Also know as clotting, the process where blood changes from liquid to a gel-form

Variants: A version of the virus that is distinctively different from the original or main strain.

UK Variant: Lineage B.1.1.7, a variant of the COVID-19 vaccine first discovered in United Kingdown in November 2020.

South Africa Variant: Lineage B.1.351, a variant of the COVID-19 vaccine first discovered in South Africa in October 2020.

Disclaimer: The health information is provided for general informational and educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional health advice. To seek further medical advice for your medical condition, do consult your doctor or go to the nearest health institution to get assistance. This video only represents the speaker’s views on COVID-19 and its vaccines.

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About the Writer
Raihan Rahman
Raihan loves psychological thriller books and horror movies but sleeps with a night light, lest the monsters get her.
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