GEORGE TOWN, April 2 — The government will obtain the latest clinical data from COVID-19 vaccine manufacturer AstraZeneca, for analysis by the Vaccine Selection Technical Working Group (TWG) and the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), following news reports of side effects of the vaccine in the United Kingdom.
National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme Coordinating Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin said that the government would not decide whether to proceed with the selection of the vaccine based just on news reports, but would look at clinical data.
“We have two layers of advice received by the Special Committee on COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee, chaired by me, and the Minister of Health, namely, from the Vaccine Selection Technical Working Group and the NPRA.
“When we receive new information in the news, we will ask AstraZeneca for clinical information to make a decision, and thus far we have not received any information for us to take a different stance from what was before,” he said at a press conference after a working visit to the Collaborative Research in Engineering, Science and Technology (CREST), Universiti Sains Malaysia today.
However, Khairy, who is also Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, said that he would obtain the clinical information so that these two layers (TWG and NPRA) could make a decision to advise the ministers for the next course of action.
Commenting on Malaysia’s ability to produce human vaccines, he said that the government had placed this challenge in the National Vaccine Development Roadmap and hoped that it would become a reality within 10 years.
He said that the government had allocated a grant of RM5 million to Universiti Malaya and Universiti Putra Malaysia to develop a Coronavirus vaccine.
“For us not to give high hopes to the people, this project is still at the pre-clinical research stage. This is a very unfortunate thing but this is not going to be the last pandemic, so all countries must be prepared.
“For Malaysia, unfortunately, this time we see that our ability is very limited to produce our own vaccines. So it is worthwhile putting in money into vaccine research and development now to ensure we have the capacity to do so in the future,” he said.
Meanwhile, Khairy also said that the government, especially the Ministry of Health, has yet to decide to reduce the quarantine period for those who enter the country after receiving two doses of vaccine.