Health Minister Dr Adham Baba today said the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective and will be administered to those aged 60 and above.
Speaking at a press conference in Putrajaya, he said the decision followed a thorough assessment of the vaccine which found that its benefits outweigh any disadvantages.
“The AstraZeneca vaccine will be used for those aged 60 and above,” he added.
Khairy Jamaluddin, the minister in charge of the vaccination programme, said earlier this month that a decision would be made on whether to continue with the AstraZeneca jab.
He said the government had noted a report from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) which confirmed for the first time a link between the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine and cases of blood clots.
The EMA’s safety committee concluded on April 7 that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets should be listed as a very rare side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
On April 12, Khairy said senior citizens would be given the Sinovac vaccine from China. He said the Sinovac vaccine is accepted as safe, effective and stable to be given to the elderly aged 60 and above.
Institute of Clinical Research director Dr Kalaiarasu Periasamy, who spoke at the press conference with Adham, said cases of blood clots were very rare.
Adding that several countries had halted use of the AstraZeneca jab in their vaccination programmes for further study, he said the vaccine was safe for use on all adults.
He said the Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee chaired by Adham and Khairy had gathered feedback from a 22-man panel of medical experts led by health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah on whether the AstraZeneca jabs reduce hospital admissions, ICU cases and the risk of dying from Covid-19.
“If we compare the risks and advantages, the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the risks,” he said.
He added that they would continue to study data from other countries that are using the AstraZeneca vaccine on their adult population.