“We are finding ways to make the vaccines halal, and hope to complete it as soon as possible,” said Jamil Bidin, chief executive officer of Halal Industry Development Corporation (HDC), Arab News reported on Thursday, April 10.
“The vaccines that are the focus of local and international scientists and Shariah experts are meant to treat meningitis, hepatitis and meningococcal (disease),” he told reporters on the sideline of the World Halal Week 2014.
With a 100-million-dollar budget, HDC and a Saudi corporation promised to provide vaccinations for meningitis, hepatitis and meningococcal within three years.
According to the Malaysian minister of international trade and industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, “The halal vaccines will help alleviate fears and doubts among Muslims on the integrity of the products.”
The new halal vaccines are to be extracted from animals that are slaughtered according to Islamic Shari`ah.
The producers also promised to exclude pork from the manufacturing of the vaccines.
The concept of halal — meaning permissible in Arabic — has traditionally been applied to food.
Muslims should only eat meat from livestock slaughtered by a sharp knife from their necks, and the name of Allah, the Arabic word for God, must be mentioned.
Muslim scholars agree that Shari`ah provides a divine law of mercy that should be applied on all Allah’s creations, including animals.
Now other goods and services are certified as halal, including cosmetics, clothing, pharmaceuticals and financial services.
Malaysia, a mainly Muslim country, is becoming globally recognized as the world’s halal food hub.
In 2004, Malaysia launched a bi-monthly magazine, The Halal Journal, as the first trade and business publication serving the global halal market.
The world’s first halal vaccine for meningitis would benefit thousands of Muslim pilgrims who are in danger of being infected with it.
Meningitis vaccines are produced in the West from pig extracts, which don’t comply with Muslims.
“We are focusing more on meningitis vaccines, which are required for those who perform the Hajj pilgrimage, but are currently pork-based,” Bidin said.
“Pork-free vaccines will be in high demand, not only among Muslims but also non-Muslims. People will go for the alternative once they know about it. After developing these three vaccines, we will continue to produce others,” Bidin said.
Meningitis is an infection of the thin lining that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
It can cause complications including brain damage, deafness and learning problems.
About 5-10 percent of patients die from the illness, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Along with offering halal vaccinations, HDC aims to standardize halal certification for all Muslim countries.
“Malaysia is partnering with Turkey to tackle the differences in halal certification and to come up with new standardized criteria that will be applied in all OIC countries,” Bidin revealed.