The AstraZeneca vaccine made headlines after health regulators discovered potentially life-threatening blood clots known as thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). However, health regulators have emphasized that TTS is a possible yet extremely rare side effect, reported only in approximately 9.3 cases per million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Due to the public’s mixed feelings about its safety, the local board decided to pull it out of the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme, offering it only to Malaysians on a voluntary basis.
The Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine (codename AZD1222) was developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, a British-Swedish company. The AstraZeneca vaccine is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus that has been modified to contain genetic material shared by the coronavirus. Once it has been injected, it teaches the recipient’s immune system how to fight the real virus by producing antibodies and activating T-cells. If the individual who has been vaccinated is exposed to COVID-19 in the future, antibodies and T-cells will be triggered to fight the virus effectively.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is administered in 2 doses with an interval of 8 – 12 weeks and is reported to have an efficacy of 76.0% at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 following the first dose, and 81.3% after the second dose. Experts have repeatedly stressed that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh its risks and that it’s a good option for Malaysians who wish to get vaccinated faster instead of waiting in line for their turn to be assigned a slot.