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Why Malaysia can't escape the fact that instant Covid-19 vaccines are not foolproof

By Jay Ihsan* 

Try as hard, the Malaysian government cannot escape the fact that the “instant” Covid-19 (C19) vaccines are not foolproof.
Individuals, be it children, adults and elderly, have suffered injuries post-C19 immunisation.
As of August 4, 2022, some 84.1 percent of the population in Malaysia were fully vaccinated against C19. Among the Malaysian states, Klang Valley recorded the highest fully vaccinated population rate, at 100.8 percent.
Yet the prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob-led administration is straying as far possible from shouldering accountability and responsibility for the disastrous C19 vaccination aftermath.
One way it has done so is by refusing to use the term “compensation” to recognise and accept injury or harm suffered by those who were C19 inoculated.
The Health Ministry is “pleased” that money given out through the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma - a responsibilty of the Prime Minister’s Department) for adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) be known simply as “financial aid” and not “compensation”.
Through a written parliamentary reply in March this year, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said a total of RM195,000 was paid out under the “Special Financial Assistance Adverse Effects of Covid-19 Vaccine” scheme to those who experienced serious vaccine-related side effects.
Why is a graft plagued Malaysia terrified to address a spade for what it is?
To the National Pharmaceutical Agency (NPRA), it was all about “financial assistance, not compensation” as it struggles to avoid the unpleasant reality as to whether this meant the government was trying to avoid culpability for disastrous effects of the C19 vaccines. (NPRA processess AEFI reports and monitors safety of C19 vaccines)
NPRA’s perplexing clarity came on March 22, 2022, a year after the BN administration first declared the “Special Financial Assistance Adverse Effects of Covid-19 Vaccine” scheme on March 22 last year.
NPRA pharmacovigilance division head Dr Azuana Ramli held a media briefing in March this year to clarify:
“People think it’s pampasan (compensation); it’s not. It’s actually bantuan (assistance).”
When pressed further about the government’s noncommittal stand on accepting responsibility for AEFI, it was NPRA director Dr Roshayati Mohamad Sani who responded:
“That was what was agreed in the Cabinet, if I’m not mistaken – special Covid-19 financial assistance, not compensation.
“They did not say ‘compensation’, they stated ‘financial assistance’ to help with any difficulties.”
Dr Azuana cited the Health Ministry’s (MOH) guideline on the scheme.
“It’s clear on what it actually is.”
The Ministry’s Guidelines on Applications for Special Financial Assistance Adverse Effects of Covid-19 vaccine makes no mention of “compensation” (pampasan).
The Covid-19 vaccine injury scheme gives out “assistance” of not more than RM50,000 to “Covid-19 vaccine recipients” who suffer serious adverse effects requiring long-term hospitalisation.
A sum of not more than RM500,000 is handed out for disability or death “caused” by the C19 vaccines. The government however has stopped short of singling out a particular C19 vaccine that is AEFI-linked. It has been steadfast in saying no deaths have been linked to the C19 vaccines.
In March last year, then prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin declared the doubling of Malaysia’s C19 immunisation budget to RM5 billion to hasten the country’s target of vaccinating 80% of its 32 million population by December 2021, instead of February 2022.
The rush also saw Malaysia doing away with reservation for a second shot of the Pfizer vaccine for those who had been given the first dose.
Malaysia’s C19 immunisation drive started on February 23, 2021 with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The China developed Sinovac Biotech vaccine use kicked off on March 18.

Claims not given urgency

A reporter for an English daily when covering the NPRA media briefing relayed her frustration in applying for “compensation” after she was hospitalised for serious side effects post-C19 booster shot.
She had said the authorities told her it was “highly unlikely” that her condition was caused by Covid-19 vaccination.
“Why is there such a hesitance from the government to acknowledge this? Is it because you want to under-report? This is from my personal experience.”
How did the authorities conclude that it was “highly unlikely” the journalist’s situation had no relation to the C19 inoculation? Is the government hiding the truth about the number of fatalities and injuries caused by the C19 vaccines?
The journalist decried as “tedious” and lengthy the “compensation” process as it takes one month for the doctor to fill up the form.
Just as fed up was one Annie Joseph from Sungai Buloh, Selangor who penned her frustration in a letter to English daily New Straits Times. Published on January 5, 2022, Annie took Nadma to task for dragging its feet in handling the C19 deceased payment.
“I relate the case of a friend, Lim Siew Ngoh whose mother died due to Covid-19 in Aug 2020.
“I helped my friend get all the required documents from the Sg Buloh Hospital to be forwarded to Nadma.
“I had WhatsApped, as requested, all the documents to Nadma in Putrajaya on Aug 14, 2021.
“There was no acknowledgement of the receipt of the documents or any communication about the application being processed.
“I asked the department by e-mail whether the application is being or has been processed, and was always referred to a certain website.
“When you call the office, the phone rings for a long time but no one attends to it.
“The government must look into such issues to ensure that the applicants to Nadma receive a reply or acknowledgement and keep the applicant informed by telephone or email.
“The families of the Covid-19 deceased expect Nadma not to make life more difficult for them,” wrote an exasperated Annie.

Govt and authorities not telling the truth

NPRA’s Dr Azuana had said it encouraged people to report any side effects to prevent safety issues in the Malaysian population that could see the vaccine being recalled.
“For example, myocarditis was not detected in the clinical trials,” she then said, referring to heart inflammation that has been reported internationally after inoculation with mRNA Covid-19 vaccines.
“It was detected through post-marketing surveillance. That’s why it’s important to report all reactions.”
When and for how long a time did the so-called clinical trials take place? Was “ emergency use” not the excuse given for the C19 vaccines to be unveiled without any testing?
Dr Azuana’s superficial concern is troubling. Would she rather vaccines that resulted in injury in individuals continue to be used?
Is Dr Azuana oblivious to the fact that the C19 vaccines were an “instant” reaction to the “pandemic”?
Why is NPRA not being transparent about the truth surrounding C19 vaccines – that they cause a host of life threatening injuries and deaths?
Clearly, NPRA like the government is trying hard to be politically correct: the truth that C19 vaccines are both not dependable and not needed is a bitter pill to swallow for Malaysia and the world.
---
*Journalist based in Malaysia

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