MoH looking at five vaccine candidates

Daniel Lim & James Kon

The Ministry of Health (MoH) is monitoring five vaccine candidates in the Brunei Darussalam Vaccination Strategy including AstraZeneca.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a statement that there was no link to prove AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s COVID-19 vaccine causes blood clot as reported by international media.

This was said by Senior Medical Officer Dr Mohammad Fathi bin Dato Paduka Haji Alikhan during a COVID-19 vaccination programme briefing for penghulus, village heads and senior citizens of Brunei-Muara District at Muhibbah Hall, Old Airport.

The vaccine candidates are: Pfizer-BioNTech which requires two doses at an interval of 21 days; Moderna which requires two doses at an interval of 28 days; AstraZeneca which requires two doses at an interval of 12 weeks; Sinopharm which requires two doses at an interval of 21-28 days; and Johnson and Johnson which requires only one dose.

On the possibility of choosing which vaccine to take. Dr Mohammad Fathi said, “We are in the position to sit back because the country currently does not have any local COVID-19 transmissions. We have the luxury to seek evidence to review which vaccine is safe and good for the people. In an ideal situation, we will have a choice. But in a pandemic, if people were given the choice to choose, we may not achieve the 70-per-cent vaccination coverage for herd immunity. We have to offer whatever vaccine that is available.”

ABOVE & BELOW: Senior Medical Officer Dr Mohammad Fathi bin Dato Paduka Haji Alikhan; and Belait District Medical Officer Dr Muhammad Norizni bin Haji Mosli. PHOTOS: JAMES KON & DANIEL LIM

He also reassured the vaccines are safe by highlighting thorough trials during production.

He said, “In pre-clinical trials, a vaccine is tested in animal studies for efficacy and safety. Clinical studies that involved humans are divided into three phases. Phase 1 includes small groups of healthy adult volunteers receiving the vaccine to test its safety. Second phase is when the vaccine is administered to a larger group of people who have characteristics (such as age, health) similar to those for whom the new vaccine is intended. In the third phase, the vaccine is given to thousands of people to test for efficacy and safety.”

Some 200 participants attended the briefing.

Brunei-Muara District Officer Misle bin Haji Abdul Karim was also in attendance.

A similar briefing was held at the Kampong Pandan Community Hall in Belait District with over 100 attendees.

Belait District Medical Officer Dr Muhammad Norizni bin Haji Mosli facilitated the briefing that also saw a booth set up to help attendees resolve issues related to the BruHealth app.

The vaccine distribution is divided into three phases. Phase 1 is for frontliners, senior citizens and students who will be studying overseas. Phase 2 is for staff at childcare centres, adults with co-morbidities and teachers, while Phase 3 is for the public aged 18 and above.

Four locations for the administration of the vaccine have been selected: Indoor Stadium in Brunei-Muara District; Pengiran Muda Mahkota Pengiran Muda Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah Hospital in Tutong District; Suri Seri Begawan Hospital in Belait District; and Pengiran Isteri Hajjah Mariam Hospital in Temburong District.