By CLARISSA CHUNG
The Star, Sunday, 29 Nov 2020
PETALING JAYA: Health experts have lauded the government’s initiative in securing Covid-19 vaccines as a step in the right direction to tackle the pandemic.
However, some are calling for further details on the initiative.
Welcoming the plan, Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society president Amrahi Buang applauded the government’s assurance that it would be “prioritising the vaccines’ quality, safety and efficacy.
He questioned how the different vaccines would be allocated to Malaysians, especially as the country now has pacts with Pfizer, the Covax facility and China.
“We now have three vaccine (agreements), so the government must be transparent about who will be administered which vaccine, ” he said.
Amrahi said it should also be made known who would be held liable should there be negative effects following the use of the new vaccine.
“Usually, in any memorandum of understanding with suppliers, they will not bear
the liability. If there is any problem, will the government compensate?” he asked, adding that proper mechanisms should be put in place to monitor and report any adverse effect following immunisation.
Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said he was pleased by the government’s efforts to secure Covid-19 vaccines as early as possible.
“We appreciate the assurance given by
the Prime Minister that the vaccines will undergo stringent checks set by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency.
“It is hoped that the government will soon reveal the full list of vulnerable groups that will be prioritised for the vaccines, as well as further details of its programme to vaccinate the population, ” he said.
Universiti Malaya virologist Prof Dr Sazaly Abu Bakar said those who needed the vaccine would be looking forward to the government’s plans to make it available.
He said safety must be ensured as some of the new Covid-19 vaccines were developed with a new method – using messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA).
“There have never been any approved mRNA vaccines before this, ” he added.
Conventional vaccines insert a weakened disease-causing protein into one’s body to trigger an immune response.
In comparison, the mRNA vaccine will give instructions to the body to produce the protein itself to trigger an immune response.
Calling this the “most awaited moment”, Universiti Putra Malaysia medical epidemiologist Assoc Prof Dr Malina Osman said it gave hope to many people that the pandemic might end soon.
“The government through the relevant agencies has carried out appropriate and recommended steps to facilitate the availability of the vaccines in the country, ” she said.
She expressed hope, however, that as the vaccine was developed within a relatively short period of time, there would be no adverse effects.
“With the current reported effectiveness and minimal side effects, we hope there will be no other side effects or unwanted complications, ” she said.
In the meantime, she advised Malaysians to continue complying with the standard operating procedure as the vaccines would still take some time to arrive.
Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia president Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh said while it was thankful for the supply of vaccines, it hoped that those in private healthcare would not be sidelined in getting the stock.
“We are happy to negotiate for our own supply, but we are afraid we may not get the allotment even to negotiate, ” he said.
Date of Input: 11/12/2020 | Updated: 11/12/2020 | norashiqin