KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 – The National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) today clarified that government funds disbursed to people who suffer serious side effects after Covid-19 vaccination was not “compensation”, but simply “financial assistance”.
The NPRA’s clarification today came nearly a year after the government first announced the “Special Financial Assistance Adverse Effects of Covid-19 Vaccine” scheme on March 22 last year.
Multiple media reports have described the financial scheme as “compensation” for adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) with the Covid-19 vaccine.
“People think it’s pampasan (compensation); it’s not. It’s actually bantuan (assistance),” NPRA pharmacovigilance division head Dr Azuana Ramli told a media briefing on Covid-19 vaccine AEFI today.
When CodeBlue asked if this meant that the government was not admitting liability for Covid-19 vaccines, NPRA director Dr Roshayati Mohamad Sani replied: “That was what was agreed in the Cabinet, if I’m not mistaken – special Covid-19 financial assistance, not compensation.
“They did not say ‘compensation’, they stated ‘financial assistance’ to help with any difficulties.”
When CodeBlue asked NPRA again to clarify that the government was not admitting that the vaccine taken by successful applicants had caused their condition, or that the government was not “admitting liability for the vaccine for these cases”, Dr Azuana cited the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) guideline on the scheme.
“It’s clear on what it actually is.”
MOH’s Guidelines on Applications for Special Financial Assistance Adverse Effects of Covid-19 Vaccine does not mention “compensation” (pampasan) at all.
The Covid-19 vaccine injury scheme disburses “assistance” of not more than RM50,000 to “Covid-19 vaccine recipients” who suffer serious adverse effects that require long-term hospitalisation, as well as not more than RM500,000 for disability or death “caused” by the Covid-19 vaccine.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin reportedly said last November that the fund has disbursed RM132,500 for eight cases of serious Covid-19 vaccine AEFI that required hospital treatment. MOH has yet to confirm any death linked to the coronavirus vaccine.
A reporter from The Star, who covered NPRA’s media briefing today, related the difficult process of applying for “compensation” after she was hospitalised for serious side effects after her Covid-19 booster shot.
She said authorities told her it was “highly unlikely” that her condition was caused by Covid-19 vaccination.
“Why is there such a hesitance from the government to acknowledge this? Is it because you want to under-report? This is from my personal experience.”
She also described the application process for “compensation” for serious Covid-19 vaccine AEFI to be very “tedious” and lengthy, as it takes one month for the doctor to fill up the form.
Dr Azuana maintained that the NPRA always encouraged people to report side effects after Covid-19 vaccination to ensure there are no safety issues in the Malaysian population that could result in a recall of the vaccine.
“For example, myocarditis was not detected in the clinical trials,” she said, referring to heart inflammation that has been reported internationally after inoculation with mRNA Covid-19 vaccines.
“It was detected through post-marketing surveillance. That’s why it’s important to report all reactions.”