KUALA LUMPUR

Malaysians are urging the government to approve coronavirus vaccines and start a vaccination drive at the earliest, as a minister said it will not rush the approval of antigen for emergency use.

“All countries, including Malaysia, should accept the vaccine and save the world from this virus,” Mohd Shamil Ngoh Abdullah, a restaurant owner in the capital Kuala Lumpur, told Anadolu Agency on Sunday. “The government should decide which vaccine is effective and approve it without waiting for too long.”

Street food seller Muhammed Nur Shefik made a similar demand, asking the authorities to take the advice of health professionals.

He expressed satisfaction over the measures against the virus. “The curfew in March left us in a difficult situation, but now we can open our shop and make a living.”

Jepri Mat Hasan, who works as a courier, said opinion on the efficacy of the vaccines vary, however, “if there are no side effects, Malaysia should go for it.”

Regarding the official COVID-19 measures, he said: “I think the restrictions applied so far have been quite appropriate. The public may not be very pleased but we would have been worse off without the containment measures.”

Kuala Lumpur started easing restrictions on social, education and religious activities in phases in June. Ban on inter-district and inter-state travel was lifted on Dec. 7.

Countries that have approved an emergency use for vaccines against the novel virus include the US and UK. Many other states are also speeding up the process and procuring shots in the meantime.

Malaysia has ordered the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine and an alternative from COVAX for immunization.

Its science, technology and innovation minister, however, has said that it will not take the emergency use pathway.

“In Malaysia, there will be no political pressure and we will not use the emergency-use pathway,” Khairy Jamaluddin tweeted Saturday. “The clinical data of the vaccines we procure will be independently evaluated by the [Health Ministry’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency] NPRA before it can be registered and used.”

The Southeast Asian country’s COVID-19 tally stands at 82,246, including 411 deaths.

*Writing by Havva Kara Aydin and Waleed Tariq in Ankara

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