Khairy offers AstraZeneca vaccine to Sarawak

A chart detailing the low rate of occurrence of blood clot cases due to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, April 28: National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP) Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has offered Sarawak to consider the use of the controversial AstraZeneca vaccine to boost the State’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.

In a joint press conference with Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba today, Khairy emphasised that Malaysia will continue to use the AstraZeneca vaccine even though it will not be included in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP) following growing public concerns that it is linked to rare blood clot cases.

“The vaccine would instead be given through dedicated vaccination centres on a first-come-first-serve basis to those who volunteer and have consented to take the vaccine.

“I have also made an offer to Sarawak as it is still a red zone State and considering the urgency to complete its vaccination programme by a certain time because of concerns of a looming State election,” he said.

Khairy explained that the decision was made to avoid disrupting the ongoing NIP and wastage of the AstraZeneca vaccine but more importantly, the fact that it is safe and efficient.

The AstraZeneca vaccine, he added, will be open up for registration for 268,600 doses in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur first considering that the cases in these two areas are still very high.

He added that a separate registration system will be created to allow people 18 years and above to register their interests to take the vaccine only at dedicated vaccination centres.

“Individuals will have to go through pre-screening at the centres to ensure they are eligible to take the vaccine,” he said.

The interval for the AstraZeneca vaccine, he continued, is 12 weeks as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and practiced in the United Kingdom (UK).

Noting that science and facts cannot provide total assurance to the worries and anxiety of the public, Khairy said he shared the views of experts under the Vaccine Selection Technical Working Group (TWG) who have reiterated the safety and efficacy of the AstraZeneca vaccine as the benefits still outweigh its risks linked to rare blood clot cases.

“Medical studies have shown that the risk of blood clots in Covid-19 infections is higher at 16.5 per cent or 165,000 cases in one million cases as compared to the AstraZeneca vaccine at 0.0004 per cent or four cases in one million vaccines.

“So the risk of blood clots in (the use of) AstraZeneca is small as compared to Covid-19 infections and smoking (which carries 0.18 per cent risk) and birth control pill (0.05 to 0.12 per cent),” he pointed out.

He added that currently, only Norway, Denmark and Hong Kong have postponed or cancelled the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine while most if not all European countries have and will continue the use it after taking risk assessments. — DayakDaily