Malaysia receives first batch of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines

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Malaysia received 268 800 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines on Friday night, its first batch from the pharmaceutical company, the state news agency reported on Saturday.

Health Minister Adham Baba said the batch was purchased through the COVAX facility.

“The COVAX facility sent the vaccine from South Korea, and we will keep it at the designated storage centre,” he told reporters, according to Bernama.

The country had initially given conditional approval in March for the use of the vaccine made by the firm, but placed it under review after the European Medicines Agency found that unusual blood clots with low blood platelets was a rare side effect of the vaccine.

Adham said the procurement was decided after approval by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency.

“Our view is that the AstraZeneca vaccine is beneficial for use by certain groups…(we) need to have more brands of vaccine as some people may be compatible with this vaccine,” he said.

An announcement would be made on Monday on the first group of recipients.

Malaysia has secured a total of 12.8 million doses from AstraZeneca, half of which will come via the global COVAX facility. It was slated to receive the first 600 000 doses in June.

Chilean AstraZeneca trial saw no cases of blood clots: trial leaders

Chilean investigators testing the AstraZeneca-Oxford University COVID-19 vaccination in 2 200 people found no instances of blood clots among participants, they said on Friday.

Dr. Maria Elena Santolaya, from the University of Chile which led the trial, said the study included people of all ages, with 20% of them over 60-years-old.

“In no age group, among women or men, did we have any blood clotting of any nature,” she said.

More than a dozen European countries suspended or restricted use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, called Vaxzevria, amid reports of blood clots combined with low platelets in a very small number of people who received it.

This week, Chile took delivery of the first 158 400 of a promised 800 000 doses delivered through the COVAX vaccines alliance.

A further 4 million Vaxzevria doses purchased through a bilateral deal are due to start arriving in May.

Vaxzevria was approved for emergency use in Chile in January for men over 18 and women over 55 but will be used only for men since most women over 55 in Chile have already been vaccinated, the Health Minister said.

Ennio Vivaldi, the rector of the University of Chile, said Chileans should receive the AstraZeneca vaccine with confidence.

“All the trials show that the risks are minimal compared to the protection factor a vaccine carries,” he said.