AstraZeneca gets all-clear

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will proceed with using the AstraZeneca vaccine after deciding that the benefits of the vaccine far outweigh the negatives.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee (JKJAV) meeting yesterday had discussed the safety of the vaccine following concerns about the occurrence of blood clots in a small number of recipients.

“The JKJAV had a meeting from 11am to 2pm today and among the things we discussed was the usage of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the United Kingdom.

“We (Malaysia) will proceed with AstraZeneca. This is because the clinical data has shown that there are more benefits than negatives with this vaccine, ” Dr Adham told reporters after a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signing ceremony between the Health Ministry and the Transport Ministry here.

Dr Adham said experts at the meeting discussed several issues relating to AstraZeneca, particularly the discovery of blood clot cases among recipients of the vaccine.

The minister said although Malaysia had agreed to procure the AstraZeneca vaccine, the country had not yet received them.

“We have not received the vaccine, but we have agreed to procure them from Thailand and also from the Covax facility based in South Korea, ” said Dr Adham.

Malaysia is scheduled to receive deliveries of about 6.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in May for the use of 3.2 million people.

Several countries in Europe had suspended the use of the vaccine after a small number of reports of blood clots among its recipients.

Earlier, Dr Adham and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong witnessed the signing ceremony of an MOU between the two ministries.

The documents were signed by Health Ministry secretary-general Datuk Mohd Shafiq Abdullah and Transport Ministry secretary-general Datuk Isham Ishak.

The agreement will see both ministries collaborate to develop programmes that will produce competent ambulance drivers.

Dr Adham said the government would also enact a law based on the Emergency Management System in many developed countries which would focus on ambulance safety.

“In the past five years, there have been a total of 636 accidents without injuries involving ambulances. There have also been nine deaths.

“On average, there are 129 accidents recorded per year, ” said Dr Adham.

The minister added that there were 2,500 ambulance drivers attached to the ministry who would benefit from the driving competency and safety programmes under the new collaboration.

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