KUALA LUMPUR, April 6 — The government has decided to continue including AstraZeneca’s vaccine as part of Malaysia’s Covid-19 vaccine portfolio, despite international reports of blood clots linked to the shot.
Health Minister Dr Adham Baba, in a press conference after a Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Committee (JKJAV) meeting today, announced that upon reviewing data on the blood clot events surrounding the AstraZeneca-Oxford coronavirus vaccine, the government has decided that the vaccine benefits outweigh its risks.
“We take note of the elements that were brought forward and the adverse effects and the factors that involve thrombosis or thrombocytopenia,” Dr Adham said in the press conference.
“We will still continue with the use of AstraZeneca in our country because the clinical data that we have found still shows more benefits than harm.”
Dr Adham’s remarks were made before news reports broke about a European Medicines Agency (EMA) top official saying there is a link between AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine and blood clots, although the cause is unclear.
“In my opinion, we can say it now, it is clear there is a link with the vaccine,” EMA head of vaccines Marco Cavaleri told Italy’s II Messaggero newspaper, Medical Xpress reported, although it was unclear what caused such a reaction.
In the United Kingdom, out of the 18 million people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine, 30 of them developed rare blood clots, known as cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), resulting in seven deaths.
UK health authorities now fear that younger women will refuse to take the AstraZeneca jab because two thirds of the patients that developed blood clots were females.
Different countries have changed their strategy on the use of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine. For example, in Canada and France, the AstraZeneca vaccine is not being used for people below the age of 55.
Germany, which reported unusual blood clots in 31 people who recently received the AstraZeneca shot, has halted giving the vaccine to people aged 60 or older. Nine of the people with blood clots had died, seven of whom were women aged 20 to 63, AP reported. Germany has administered about 2.7 million doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine.
Meanwhile, countries like Norway, Denmark, Austria, Ireland, Portugal, and Latvia have suspended use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Malaysia has procured 12.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine through direct procurement, which is being manufactured in Thailand, as well as from the COVAX initiative, where doses are manufactured in South Korea. Malaysia expects deliveries of AstraZeneca’s vaccine from next month.