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Decision on AstraZeneca jabs in 2 weeks, says Khairy

He says there is ample time for a decision to be made before the vaccine arrives next month, amid concerns over blood clots as a side effect of the jab.

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The AstraZeneca vaccine has been under scrutiny following reports of blood clots developed after receiving the jab. Photo: AP
The AstraZeneca vaccine has been under scrutiny following reports of blood clots developed after receiving the jab. Photo: AP

The government will decide whether Malaysia continues to use the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine or not at the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee meeting in two weeks’ time.

Khairy Jamaluddin, the minister in charge of the vaccination programme, said the government would then study any additional information to be tabled by the panel of experts from the health ministry before making a decision.

He said the government had noted the report from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) which confirmed 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 the EMA), our stance was as stated by Health Minister 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 the committee based on the recent information that we have obtained from the EMA,” he told reporters after an event in Kuala Lumpur today.

On April 7, the EMA’s safety committee 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 worry about any reports pertaining to the AstraZeneca vaccine which is scheduled to arrive next month, as the committee has enough time to decide whether to use the vaccine or not.

On the proposal to issue Covid-19 vaccine passports to those 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 is proof of vaccination and a screening test. We have not made any decision… if we will relax some travel restrictions for those who have been vaccinated. They have to have some proof,” he said.

He also said the government plans to give the Orang Asli the complete Covid-19 vaccine in just one shot as this would ease the management of vaccinators and prevent the Orang Asli community from having to make multiple trips to get vaccinated.

He said so far, there are only two types of single-shot vaccines that have undergone the third phase of clinical studies, namely CanSino which is now under the registration process with the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency, and 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.