KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) is updating its vaccination protocols following reports of 23 deaths among those aged 80 and above in Norway, following their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said the ministry is now collecting more data to take into consideration the age and health of the patients.

“With reference to reports released by the Norwegian Medicines Agency, the deaths were among the elderly and sickly with a history of chronic disease.

“Autopsies showed that the recipients of the vaccine suffered fever, purging and nausea which are normal adverse reactions after receiving immunisation.

“Following that, we are updating our vaccination information to take into account the person’s age and health history. The NRPA (National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency) is also getting detailed information from Pfizer (M) Sdn Bhd and monitoring what the European Medicines Agency are doing about the latest developments,” Dr Adham said in a statement today.

Health authorities in Norway have warned that Covid-19 vaccines may be too risky for those who are very old and frail and are adjusting its recommendations for vaccinating this group of people.

Norwegian Medicines Agency chief physician Sigurd Hortemo said in a statement yesterday that the common adverse reactions to the vaccines may have contributed to a fatal outcome in some frail patients.

Malaysia has finalised an agreement to purchase 12.8 million doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, with an estimated first delivery date in the first quarter of this year.

The doses will be enough to vaccinate 6.4 million people, with the initial shipment of one million doses earmarked for 500,000 frontline health workers.

Dr Adham revealed today that Pfizer had already been conditionally registered on January 8 by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NRPA), adding that the ministry still feels the vaccine remains viable following third phase clinical trials which showed a 95 per cent efficiency.

“The Covid-19 COMIRNATY Concentrate For Dispersion For Injection vaccine by Pfizer-BioNTech has been granted conditional registration on January 8 by the NRPA. This to provide Malaysians access to the vaccine.

“The efficacy and safety trials conducted on 44,000 volunteers including those aged above 75 have shown a 95 per cent success rate when delivered in two doses within 21 days.

“Clinical research shows that the adverse effects are within the allowable perimeters and only temporary,” explained Dr Adham.

* Editor's note: An earlier version of this article errorneously quoted Dr Adham as saying that Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine showed a a 95 per cent success rate when delivered in two doses within 21 hours, and has been corrected.