KUALA LUMPUR, July 5 — Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin today said that there is no reason for the European Union (EU) to “discriminate” between the different AstraZeneca manufacturing locations as all of them adhere to the good manufacturing practice (GMP).
In the weekly Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) press conference today, Khairy said that Malaysia is taking steps after the EU announced that its Digital Covid Certificate which came into force on July 1, only recognises EU-approved shots for free travel within the bloc.
Khairy said that he would also be discussing with the EU ambassador to Malaysia on the said matter, to obtain “greater clarity”.
“On the AstraZeneca question regarding the statement that was made by the EU, we are doing one of a few things. The first is to receive greater clarification from the EU about their policy and I will be discussing this with the EU ambassador to Malaysia to get greater clarity on the actual immigration policy for the EU with regards to vaccination.
“Secondly we will also ask AstraZeneca to inform the EU that the formulation used to manufacture the vaccines at all their sites are the same, and that all their sites practise GMP for GMP sites.
“So there is absolutely no reason for the EU to discriminate one AZ facility from the other. And as for AZ themselves, I will ask AZ to liaise with the EU,” he said, during the joint programme with Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.
Khairy said that Malaysia’s representation to the EU is that it should expand its vaccine recognition to include all vaccines approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“That would be the most fair outcome of the recognition of vaccine for travellers. As long as the vaccine has been listed by the WHO, that country should accept travellers coming in, who have been vaccinated using those vaccines,” he said, adding that he hopes to receive a clarification on the issue from the EU.
On July 2, news portal CodeBlue reported that Malaysians vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine may be barred from entering Europe, as the EU Digital Covid Certificate only approves jabs approved by the bloc.
The news portal reported that while the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has approved the Covid-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca apart from besides Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, the EU drug regulator’s approval does not cover AstraZeneca doses made by South Korea’s SK Bioscience or Thailand’s Siam Bioscience.
Malaysia’s AstraZeneca orders are produced in South Korea and Thailand.
The report said that the EMA has only approved AstraZeneca vaccine manufacturing sites in the EU, the United States, the United Kingdom and China.
But while South Korea’s SK Bioscience manufacturing site is listed in Vaxzevria’s product information as one of the manufacturers of the vaccine’s biological active substance, EMA reportedly said this simply means that “the active substance produced at this site can be used to manufacture Vaxzevria, the vaccine that is authorised in the EU”.
Malay Mail has not yet independently verified the report on EU.