PUTRAJAYA: High-risk groups such as frontliners and senior citizens, who will be among the first to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, must not be considered as “laboratory rat” test subjects, Prime Minister Muhyiddin said today.
He said the vaccine received would have undergone large-scale and safe clinical trials.
The prime minister gave the assurance that the vaccine to be used in Malaysia must meet the conditions set by the health ministry’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).
Muhyiddin had announced earlier that the government had agreed to buy 12.8 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine from the pharmaceutical company Pfizer to immunise a total of 6.4 million Malaysians free of charge.
He said the NPRA would conduct continuous monitoring of vaccine recipients to gauge the level of safety and effectiveness.
“The vaccination process will be done in stages by prioritising high-risk groups that are prone to Covid-19 infection before being extended to other target groups.
“Those who are considered high risk, among others, are frontline staff, senior citizens, patients with non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and so on.
“Therefore the frontliners and high-risk groups would not really be the first to test the vaccine, or ‘laboratory rats’, as some are describing them. They will be getting a vaccine that has been tested and proven safe,” he said at a virtual media conference here today.
The prime minister was responding to claims that the first people to receive the vaccine could be regarded as experimental subjects in the process to evaluate the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Muhyiddin said the vaccine produced by Pfizer had undergone clinical trials and tests involving 43,998 participants from various countries. “And if all 12 vaccines in phase 3 clinical trials are combined, a total of 500,000 participants were involved.”
He said data from the clinical trials would be evaluated by international bodies such as the World Health Organization, the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency.
Negotiations with 10 of 12 vaccine companies
The government is actively negotiating with 10 of the 12 companies whose vaccine is in the third phase of clinical study, he said. A special committee on vaccine supply would evaluate all vaccines to ensure they are safe for use, he said.
Muhyiddin said the government would purchase vaccines from multiple sources to ensure enough supply to vaccinate at least 60% of the population, or 18 to 19 million people.
He said the government also encouraged vaccine-producing companies to set up factories in the country, or carry out research and development. Special incentives would be offered, he said. “We hope to one day become vaccine producers and not just a consumer.”
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