National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin has criticised the European Union’s (EU) decision permitting entry only to travellers inoculated with Western-made Covid-19 vaccines, saying the matter must be clarified at the international level to prevent discrimination.
His comments came in the wake of reports that the EU would only recognise the Vaxzevria brand of the AstraZeneca vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency.
This would exclude the AstraZeneca vaccine used by Malaysia that is produced in South Korea, Thailand and Japan, as well as Covishield, the AstraZeneca version manufactured in India.
Khairy said Malaysia hoped there would be no discrimination over where the vaccines were made as the same formula is used at all manufacturing plants.
“Whether the plant is in Europe, India, South Korea or Thailand, the vaccine is the same,” he told the media after visiting a vaccination centre in Seri Kembangan over the weekend.
He also said he would seek clarification on the matter from the EU representative in the country.
He said Malaysia’s position is that if the vaccine is accepted by the World Health Organization (WHO), then other countries should also recognise those who have received the vaccine.
Khairy, the science, technology and innovation minister, recently lashed out at industrialised nations for hoarding vaccines as developing countries struggle to ensure enough supply.
While he acknowledged donations of vaccines from some developed nations which Malaysia would receive, he said this did not “do away with what has taken place in the last few months, and that is the cornering of the vaccine market”.
Late last month, he said WHO should ask all countries to recognise every type of Covid-19 vaccine listed by the United Nations agency, adding that the issue of discrimination against certain types of vaccines in use would not arise if the whole world abided by WHO’s recommendations.
“WHO must really step up right now and ask the world and countries to recognise vaccines that are listed in WHO. Otherwise, we will have countries that discriminate based on vaccines given, and that is not a way to get out from this pandemic together,” he said.