Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Malaysia to review use of AstraZeneca jab after EMA findings

Minister Khairy Jamaluddin says safety is paramount.

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Malaysia will review its use of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine following the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) statement that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as very rare side effects of the jab.

Khairy Jamaluddin, the minister in charge of the national vaccination programme, said the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee (JKJAV) would 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 on his Twitter account today.

Yesterday, Khairy was reported as saying that Malaysia still had time to decide on the matter as the AstraZeneca vaccine was coming from the Coavx facility only in May.

The EMA’s safety committee yesterday shared its conclusion on the review of AstraZeneca, reiterating that the overall benefits of the vaccine in preventing Covid-19 outweigh the risks of side effects.

The European Union agency reminded healthcare professionals and those 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 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 on its website.

The committee said it 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 safety committee also took into consideration all currently available evidence, including advice from an ad hoc expert group.

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