Malaysia adopts wait-and-see approach to coronavirus vaccines

Malaysia does not have any exclusion of the registration of vaccines during an emergency. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysia's Health Ministry will observe the use of a Covid-19 vaccine in Britain, which has announced a roll-out of Pfizer-BioNTech's drug from next week.

Health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah said Britain's Medicines and Healthcare products regulatory agency allowed the use of the vaccine although it had not been registered.

"Because it is an emergency, they allow the use of the vaccine," he said during a Covid-19 daily briefing on Wednesday (Dec 2).

"Malaysia does not have any exclusion of the registration of vaccines during an emergency and any vaccine would have to go through the various processes as determined in the Act governing it," he added.

Tan Sri Noor Hisham said Malaysia would be able to observe the efficacy and side effects of the vaccine in other countries while it continued with the process of registering it.

"The company would send a vaccine dossier to the Health Ministry and the amount of time we take is to look at its safety, efficacy and quality.

"The registration is conducted through the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA)," he said.

Dr Noor Hisham added that if the use of the vaccine in Britain in the first three months was encouraging and there were not many reports of side effects, it would give Malaysia more confidence to use the vaccine.

He said, however, that Malaysia would have to wait for the results of the third phase of a clinical trial before making any decision.

"Our agreement for the vaccine is that it must be registered with the Food and Drug Administration and the NPRA," he said.

Meanwhile, Malaysia reported 851 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, with 68,020 cumulative cases recorded since the beginning of the pandemic.

The Klang Valley recorded the most infections (334), with Selangor recording 249 cases, followed by Sabah (229), Johor (102), Kuala Lumpur (85), Negri Sembilan (62), Penang (60), Perak (34) and Kedah (26).

The number of recoveries is lower than new cases, with 658 patients discharged in the past 24 hours.

In total, 56,969 patients or 83.8 per cent have recovered from Covid-19 in the country, while active cases now stand at 10,686.

Dr Noor Hisham said there were two new Covid-19 fatalities, taking the country's death toll to 365.

"Currently, 122 people are being treated at intensive care units, with 47 of them requiring ventilator support," he said.

Dr Noor Hisham added that there was no shortage of beds to accommodate Covid-19 patients, especially those considered to be in critical stages.

He also said those with no symptoms or with light symptoms made up almost 94 per cent of the cases, and were placed in the quarantine and low-risk treatment centres.

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