Clarify stand on vaccines, EU urged

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PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia wants clarity on the European Union’s latest stand on vaccination for travellers, but says all vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) should be recognised in vaccine passport systems.

Coordinating minister of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin described the EU’s decision to only accept visitors immunised from a select list of vaccines as discriminatory and unfair.

“The EU should expand its recognition of vaccines for travellers to all that have secured approval under WHO. That would be the fairest outcome.

“As long as they have been listed by WHO, that country should accept travellers coming in who have been vaccinated using those vaccines.

“This would be Malaysia’s representation to the EU,” Khairy told the weekly Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force press briefing yesterday.

The minister was responding to the EU’s decision to only accept travellers inoculated with vaccines approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The problem is that this does not cover the AstraZeneca vaccines administered in Malaysia, as these are produced at the pharmaceutical company’s facilities in South Korea and Thailand – neither of which are in EMA’s list.

Khairy said he would meet the EU ambassador here to seek an explanation on the body’s latest policy.

He added that Malaysia would also ask AstraZeneca to inform the EU that the formulation used to make its vaccines at all sites were the same and that all their sites maintained good manufacturing practices.

“There is absolutely no reason for the EU to discriminate between one AstraZeneca facility and another. This could be an initiative which AstraZeneca itself can undertake. I will ask them to raise it with the EU,” he said.

On another matter, Khairy gave assurance that loopholes in the back-up list mechanism which resulted in manipulation in the vaccination appointment system here would be looked into.

He said police had made two arrests last week and that the Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) was working closely with the authorities, especially on technical matters regarding the appointment system.

He, however, did not disclose where the arrests were made.

“We are aware of some loopholes in the back-up list mechanism and are working on plugging it as quickly as possible,” said Khairy when asked about claims that vaccination appointments were being sold.

He explained that the function of the back-up list was to ensure that vaccines were not wasted and that initially, the list was only managed by CITF.

“However, the back-up list system has evolved. In some states, its health department supplies the backup list.

“In other vaccination centres (PPV), the healthcare organisations (managing the PPV) will be using theirs,” he said.

Khairy also said students who would be going abroad but had not turned 18 when they received vaccination appointments could be vaccinated if their parents or guardians sign consent forms.

He said to date, 8,615 vaccination appointments had been issued to students leaving for their studies abroad.



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