Malaysia in race to make world's first 'halal vaccine'

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi, India Published: Dec 10, 2020, 11:03 PM(IST)

Representative image Photograph:( Reuters )

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The halal certification will ensure that the COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any ingredient that Islam does not permit its followers to consume, primarily alcohol and pork

Muslim-majority countries are asking companies manufacturing coronavirus vaccines to issue halal certification.

The halal certification will ensure that the COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any ingredient that Islam does not permit its followers to consume, primarily alcohol and pork. 

The spread of inaccurate and irresponsible information by the anti-vaccination movement may inflict more harm than good on Muslim communities.

Information addressing religious concerns such as the halal issue must be made a priority and communicated well to the general public, encouraging not only the acceptance of vaccinations but motivating communities to play an active role in promoting vaccination.

Also read: Indonesia expects halal certificate for an experimental vaccine

A study by the Indonesian Ulema Council Halal Product Guarantee Agency and Institute for the Assessment of Food, Drugs and Cosmetics has been completed and has been submitted to the council for the making of a fatwa and halal certification, Human Development and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy said at a news conference.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo warned his ministers not to rush the launching of a novel coronavirus vaccine amid public concerns about whether it would be certified halal, or permissible under Islamic law.  

“We should consider public perception regarding the halal status of potential COVID-19 vaccines,” he said during a meeting.

Controversy over whether vaccines adhere to Islamic principles has stymied public health responses before in Indonesia, including in 2018, when the Indonesian Ulema Council issued a fatwa or ruling declaring that a measles vaccine was haram, or forbidden under Islam.

“Public communication regarding the halal status, price, quality, and distribution must be well-prepared,” he added.

The much-anticipated Covid-19 vaccine need not be halal in order to be administered in Malaysia, said Health Ministry director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah, allaying concerns among local Muslims about the shots containing substances forbidden by Islam.

"If they can get the halal certification that would be better, but we do not register a medicine based on halal status or not. We do register non-halal medicine too," Noor Hisham said.

Malaysian pharmaceutical company Pharmaniaga has said it is planning to build the world's first "halal vaccine" facility by 2022.

Malaysia inked a deal with Pfizer in November to supply 12.8 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for 20 per cent of the population. It has also entered a pact with the Covax facility to cover another 10 per cent of the population. 

The country is also set to obtain the vaccine from China which has raised questions among Muslims over its halal status.

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