Decision on AstraZeneca vaccine in two weeks, says Khairy

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): The government will decide on whether Malaysia can continue to use the AstraZeneca vaccine or not at 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 would scrutinise any additional information to be tabled by the panel of experts from the Health Ministry before making any decision.

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

"In this case, before the announcement (by EMA), our stance is as stated by the 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 the recent information that we have obtained from the EMA, ” he told reporters after the launching of CHAMPS-NASOM Autism Awareness Campaign 2021 here Friday (April 9).

On April 7, 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 which is scheduled to arrive next month, as the JKJAV has 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 the 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 were proof of vaccination and screening tests. We have not made any decision...if we decided 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 in 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.

He said 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 J&J, it can only be delivered in the fourth quarter of the year. In comparison, I think CanSino is earlier and if the registration is approved, we can use it in the rural areas, ” he said. - Bernama

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