PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will proceed with the purchase of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines as there has been no evidence that the vaccine causes blood clots, said National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
He said AstraZeneca had informed Malaysia on the side effects of the vaccine and so far, there has been no data to indicate any direct link between the vaccine and reports of blood clots in people, which had resulted in deaths in a few countries.
“As of now, we will stick by our stand. The purchase of the AstraZeneca vaccines remains,” he told a joint press conference with health minister Dr Adham Baba on the development of the immunisation programme today.
Several countries such as Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Thailand have reportedly paused roll-out of AstraZeneca’s vaccine following reports of blood clots occurring in several individuals after being vaccinated. Italy and Austria have also stopped using several batches of the vaccine.
Khairy, the science, technology and innovation minister said the the ministry would study the clinical data on incidents that have occurred abroad to enable experts to draw conclusions on the vaccine use.
Adham said the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Division (NPRA) conducts thorough studies on any vaccine to be used in Malaysia.
“We trust the NPRA’s decisions, and in the case of the AstraZeneca vaccine, we have looked into its quality and safety,” he said.
The Drug Control Authority on March 2 approved the conditional registration of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine.
On another matter, Khairy said Malaysia would take delivery of additional Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines in stages for the first phase of the immunisation programme.
Today, 83,070 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine were delivered while 124,020 doses will arrive on March 22 and another 125,190 on March 26, he said.
“Cumulatively, Malaysia will receive 1,000,350 doses of vaccine and this completes the delivery for the first quarter,” he said, adding that 100,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine were also delivered today.
Asked why Malaysia procured Covid-19 vaccines in large quantities, Khairy said the bulk purchase was to facilitate the mitigation process, which is to reduce the risk of delays in the delivery of vaccines to Malaysia.
“There is a possibility that we may need to give a ‘booster shot’ which is another dose next year if the pandemic remains, so it is good to have ready stock,” he said.
Khairy said the ministry was also looking into the possibility of vaccinating teenagers, adding that Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca manufacturers were already conducting clinical trials on individuals aged 12 to 19.