Decision on AstraZeneca vaccine in two weeks, says Khairy

Decision on AstraZeneca vaccine in two weeks, says Khairy
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KUALA LUMPUR (April 9): The government will decide on whether Malaysia can continue to use the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine or not in the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee (JKJAV) meeting in two weeks' time.

Coordinating Minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin said during the meeting, the government will scrutinise any additional information to be tabled by the panel of experts from the Ministry of Health (MoH) before making any decision.

He said the government took note of the report from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) which confirmed for the first time that there is a link between the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine and blood clotting cases.

“In this case, before the announcement [by the EMA], our stance was as stated by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba two days ago that we will proceed with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“However, I think the safest approach is to refer back to JKJAV based on recent information that we have obtained from the EMA,” he told reporters after the launch of the CHAMPS-NASOM Autism Awareness Campaign 2021 here today.

On April 7, the EMA’s safety committee (PRAC) concluded that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

However, Khairy, who is also the science, technology and innovation minister, urged the public not to be worried about any reports pertaining to the AstraZeneca vaccine scheduled to arrive next month as JKJAV would have enough time to decide on whether to use the vaccine or not.

On the proposal to issue Covid-19 vaccine passports to individuals who have received the vaccine, Khairy said the document should contain details of the vaccination and screening test within 72 hours before a trip for reference.

“As announced by Qatar, they will only let people in without quarantine if there is proof of vaccination and a screening test. We have not made any decision ... if we decide to give some [travel] relaxation to those who have been vaccinated, they have to have some proof,” he said.

In a related development, Khairy said the government plans to give the Orang Asli the complete Covid-19 vaccine of just one shot as it can ease the management of vaccinators and avoid the Orang Asli community from having to make multiple trips to get the vaccine.

According to him, so far there are only two types of single-shot vaccines that have undergone the third phase of the clinical study, namely CanSino, which is now under the registration process with the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), as well as Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

“If we want to purchase the J&J vaccine, it can only be delivered in the fourth quarter of the year (4Q21). In comparison, I think CanSino is earlier and if the registration is approved, we can use it in rural areas,” he said.