How Khairy Is Resolving EU’s AstraZeneca Vaccine Recognition For Malaysia

Khairy Jamaluddin says the “most fair outcome” is for the European Union to accept travellers inoculated with Covid-19 vaccines approved by the WHO.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 5 — The government is working on three approaches to get the European Union (EU) to recognise the Covid-19 vaccines used by Malaysia for travel into the region, Khairy Jamaluddin said today.

The vaccine minister said he is seeking further clarification from the EU ambassador to Malaysia on the EU’s actual immigration policy related to coronavirus vaccination, after CodeBlue reported that the EU’s “vaccine passport”, or Digital Covid Certificate, does not recognise AstraZeneca versions manufactured outside Europe and the United Kingdom.

Khairy added that the Malaysian government would also ask British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca to inform the EU that the formulation used to manufacture its Covid-19 vaccine is the same across all its sites and that AstraZeneca facilities have good manufacturing practice (GMP).

“So there is absolutely no reason for the European Union to discriminate one AstraZeneca facility from the other. And this would be an issue that AstraZeneca themselves, I will ask, to raise with the European Union,” Khairy told a joint press conference with Health Minister Dr Adham Baba today.

Khairy also said Malaysia has made a representation to the EU to expand recognition for travel to all Covid-19 vaccines that the World Health Organization (WHO) has approved for emergency use. 

“That would be the most fair outcome in the recognition of vaccines for travellers. As long as a vaccine has been listed by the WHO, then countries should accept travellers coming in who have been vaccinated using those vaccines.

“There are three different approaches here. We hope we can get greater clarity over the next few days,” said the science, technology and innovation minister, adding that no one has cancelled their AstraZeneca vaccine appointments after the EU’s statement.

The WHO has given emergency-use listing to the AstraZeneca vaccines produced by South Korea and India, besides the version manufactured in the EU, as well as the Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and Chinese vaccines Sinopharm and Sinovac.

However, the European Medicines Agency (EMA), EU’s drug regulator, has only authorised Vaxzevria, the AstraZeneca brand produced in the EU and UK, as well as vaccines by American pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson.

The AstraZeneca vaccines used in Malaysia are manufactured in South Korea (under the global COVAX vaccine-sharing programme) and Thailand (for the government’s direct order), besides a million doses made in Japan in a contribution from the Japanese government. Malaysia has also rolled out the Pfizer and Sinovac shots.

The EMA told CodeBlue that while South Korea’s SK Bioscience manufacturing site is listed in Vaxzevria’s product information, “this, however, does not automatically mean that the AstraZeneca vaccine SK-Bio is approved for use in the EU, even though it may be produced in the same site as the active substance for Vaxzevria (previously Covid-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca).”

The European Commission confirmed with CodeBlue that individual EU countries will ultimately decide on whether to permit entry to travellers inoculated with Covid-19 vaccines not approved by EU’s drug regulator, as the EU’s executive body is not obliging member nations to issue an EU Digital Covid Certificate for shots unauthorised across EU or at the national level.

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