A CONSUMER association has urged the Government to allow the public to choose the type of COVID-19 vaccines they would like to have, instead of the Government making the decision for them.
“No one has the right or authority to force anyone to take a vaccine that could or may harm them, based on their respective pre-existing conditions.
“It’s simply ridiculous to state that consumers need not be concerned about the brands of COVID-19 vaccines used under the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme as each vaccine has been approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).
“If that is the case, will NPRA be legally responsible should there be any deaths or dangerous side-effects later on?” Consumer Association of Subang & Shah Alam (Cassa) president Datuk Jacob George asked FocusM.
The Government had purchased the Pfizer BioNTech vaccines for its mass vaccination programme, which will be done in three phases until the first quarter of next year.
COVID-19 Immunisation Coordination Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin has announced that the Government would also ship in other vaccines, such as Sinovac from China and Sputnik V from Russia soon.
Elaborating, George said that it was important for recipients to be informed of any possible side-effects, particularly those with pre-existing medical conditions and senior citizens.
“No one is denying that there are reports that the Drug Control Authority (DCA) has granted conditional approval for the COVID-19 vaccines developed by British firm, AstraZeneca and the Chinese firm Sinovac.
“Basically, it means that the conditional approval requires registration holders to provide the latest and additional data, through rolling submissions to the NPRA for evaluation.
“This updates and process ensures the safety and efficacy of the vaccines is always up-to-date and continue to provide greater benefits over risks. Nevertheless, there are risks involved which should be addressed,” he opined.
Politicians guarantee not welcomed
George stated that people should know that different types of vaccines work differently. However, he concurred that they were efficacious in preventing deaths and other ailments caused by COVID-19.
“That is why I ask I call for Malaysian vaccine promotors, including those making sweeping statements on the Sputnik V and Sinovac vaccines to be cautious as there are reports that they are yet to publish data underlying its efficacy claims in peer-reviewed journals, making it difficult for outside experts to evaluate its claims.
“Even the AstraZeneca seems to be inviting attention as there are reports that the National Advisory Committee in Canada has advised against it because not enough tests and data have been collected for that age group,” he said.
Urging the Government to take the matter seriously, George reiterated that consumers have the right to choose the vaccine of their choice, based on facts at hand and their medical background.
“Malaysia already has enough controversies at each level of this COVID-19 vaccination programme, with the latest being some influential individuals cutting queue and subtle threats made against whistleblowers.
“This is a life and death situation and we don’t welcome blanket statements from politicians. If that is the case, why not we roll out the Sputnik V and Sinovac vaccines to them and other VIPs?
“The days that ‘government knows best’ does not work in this age of data, technology and information dissemination,” he remarked. – March 7, 2021.