KUALA LUMPUR (April 8): Malaysia will review the use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine in the country following the European Medicines Agency's (EMA) findings that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of the vaccine.
Coordinating Minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin said the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee (JKJAV) will deliberate on the matter.
“We take note of the EMA’s announcement on the AstraZeneca vaccine. JKJAV will deliberate on the matter and decide if we will go ahead with using AZ (AstraZeneca) in our portfolio of vaccines. Safety is paramount,” he said in his tweet today.
Yesterday, Khairy was reported as saying that Malaysia still had time to decide as the AstraZeneca vaccine is coming from the COVAX facility only in May.
The EMA’s safety committee (PRAC) yesterday shared its conclusion on its review of the AstraZeneca vaccine, and confirmed that benefits of the vaccine in preventing Covid-19 overall outweigh risks of side effects.
The European Union (EU) agency reminded healthcare professionals and people receiving the vaccine to remain aware of the possibility of very rare cases of blood clots combined with low levels of blood platelets occurring within two weeks of vaccination.
“So far, most of the cases [are] reported have occurred in women under 60 years of age within two weeks of vaccination. Based on the currently available evidence, specific risk factors have not been confirmed,” it said in a statement posted on its website.
The committee said it had reviewed 62 cases of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis and 24 cases of splanchnic vein thrombosis reported in the EU drug safety database as of March 22, where 25 million had received the vaccine, of which 18 were fatal.
The PRAC also took into consideration all currently available evidence, including the advice from an ad hoc expert group.