PUTRAJAYA (April 26): The AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective, and it will be administered to senior citizens, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.
“I wish to confirm that the AstraZeneca vaccine is safe for use and it is effective. We will give it to those aged 60 and above, the most suitable group,” he told a weekly press conference on Covid-19 here today.
He said the vaccine will be used in phase two of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, which began on April 19, covering senior citizens, persons with disabilities and those with comorbidities.
On Saturday, Dr Adham said Malaysia received its first batch of 268,800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through the global COVAX facility.
Also present at the press conference were Health deputy director-general (Research and Technical Support) Datuk Dr Hishamshah Mohd Ibrahim, Health deputy director-general (Public Health) Datuk Dr Chong Chee Kheong and director of Clinical Research Institute, National Institute of Health (NIH) Dr Kalaiarasu M Peariasamy.
Dr Kalairasu, who is chairman of the Health Ministry’s Covid-19 Vaccine Candidate Selection Sub-Committee (JKKPCV), said from pre-clinical aspects, the AstraZeneca vaccine using the viral vector platform is good for prevention of Covid-19.
He said the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee (JKJAV), jointly chaired by Dr Adham and National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, had sought the opinion of a panel led by Dr Hishamshah on the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
He said the panel comprising 22 experts from various disciplines was guided by three conditions to determine the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine — whether it can reduce hospital admissions, admissions to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and risks of Covid-19 deaths.
Dr Kalairasu said after studying various types of data, the panel concluded that the AstraZeneca vaccine is beneficial to use and that cases of blood clots linked to it were rare.
“Comparing the risks and benefits of the vaccine, it is suitable to be used for those aged 60 and above,” he said, adding that the vaccine had been approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) on March 2.
Dr Kalairasu said the panel will study data from other countries regarding the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for other age groups.
“The recommendation on use of the AstraZeneca vaccine will be adjusted accordingly after we have studied the available data,” he added.