PETALING JAYA: Khairy Jamaluddin will be the first to receive whichever Covid-19 vaccine that is approved next by Malaysia to encourage others not to be selective about the vaccines they are offered.
The Science, Technology and Innovation Minister said he came to that decision in order to combat “selective vaccine hesitancy”, where individuals are hesitant towards certain brands of vaccines.
“There are those who prefer the Pfizer vaccine and those who really want the Sinovac (CoronaVac) vaccine.
“Some medical practitioners have said the Sinovac vaccine uses the traditional inactivated virus platform. That’s how the old vaccines used to work and that’s tried and tested.
“Some have said the mRNA technology is good because the efficacy rate is high.
“These are views we have to listen to, but the government’s position is to take whatever vaccine the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) has approved.
“That’s why I have offered myself to take whatever vaccine the NPRA approves next as a demonstration of vaccine confidence and my confidence in the NPRA, ” he said during a press conference at KL International Airport after the CoronaVac vaccines arrived yesterday.
Allowing people a choice of the vaccine they want would also complicate the country’s logistics system, he added.
Khairy confirmed that he would not be taking the Pfizer vaccine but clarified that it was not because he doubted its efficacy or safety.
“I have been looking into the views of Malaysians. The Prime Minister, Health director-general, some ministers and frontliners have started to receive the vaccine. As such, Malaysians have confidence in the Pfizer vaccine.
“So the rakyat are wondering if the leaders are taking the Pfizer vaccine, which they think is the ‘good stuff’, and the remaining vaccines are for the ‘normal people’.
“But whatever vaccine crosses the line next, I will take that. And I don’t know which one that will be, ” he said.
Khairy, who is also coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, said Pfizer must submit new data to NPRA before its vaccine was allowed to be stored at higher temperatures in Malaysia.
This comes as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently granted approval for more flexible storage of Pfizer’s Comirnaty vaccine, allowing it to be stored at normal freezer temperatures.
“The FDA has just given approval for Pfizer vaccines to be stored at higher temperatures, which is -20°C, and this will help with our logistics management.
“So, Pfizer needs to submit to NPRA the new data that shows the vaccine is stable for two weeks at -20ºC for NPRA to give approval, ” he added.