Dr M: Do not delay vaccine approval

If the vaccine can be used in developed countries such as the UK and the US, we should just use it

by AFIQ AZIZ / pic by TMR FILE

TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture) is questioning Putrajaya’s delay in approving vaccines that have gained international recognition.

The former prime minister said the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) should not hesitate to grant the approval for more types of vaccines which are already in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP) agenda, including Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

He said such vaccines, which are being used in other countries, have shown positive progress in reducing Covid-19 spread.

On Monday, NCIP Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar said in addition to Sputnik, China’s CanSino and the US’ Johnson & Johnson vaccine are currently being reviewed by NPRA.

“There is no need to do another test which requires one question after another. If the vaccine can be used in developed countries such as the UK and the US, we should just use it.

“We have found that in the UK recently, there was not a single case of death (on June 1) because in the UK they are having an aggressive campaign to vaccinate as many people as possible.

“Maybe it has not yet reached 80% of the rate, but there is already an effect,” Dr Mahathir said in a video posted on his social media yesterday.

To date, three vaccines have received approval for conditional registration by NPRA namely Pfizer from Germany, AstraZeneca from Netherlands and Sinovac from China.

Sinovac has recently received the World Health Organisation’s emergency approval to burst immunisation rates throughout the world, especially to nations that have yet to receive enough vaccines.

Dr Mahathir also noted that Putrajaya would need to double its efforts in disbursing the vaccines to as many people in the country.

Vaccination teams, he said, should be mobilised immediately to the villages and help the elderly who have difficulty getting the vaccine.

“One doctor in one team is enough to go to the villages,” said Dr Mahathir.

He cited an example of his constituents in Langkawi, where an old man would not be able to go to town to get the jab, hence, slowing the immunisation progress at the island.

“I heard in the area of Tuba Island in Langkawi, there is a person who claims to be 130 years old. He was born there and had never left the island. It would be difficult for him to go to Kuah (town).

“The vaccination centres which could be established on the island and villages do not have to be big, but well organised,” he added.

Dr Mahathir also urged the public to not doubt the efficacy of the vaccines which are being produced around the world, including from China.

“If there are bad side effects like death, we would already know by now.

“However, we have not heard of such stories, although the media are indeed looking for news materials on the negative effects of the vaccines,” he said.