PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia had opted for the Covid-19 vaccine produced by United Kingdom (UK) pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca through negotiations under the Covax facility that will ensure supply for another 10 per cent of the country’s population.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said this will see supply from AstraZeneca increase to 20 per cent after an earlier procurement of 10 per cent through direct negotiation with the company.
“AstraZeneca’s delivery of the vaccine through Covax is being finalised but we have been told it is between March and June next year.
“Through the direct negotiation, meanwhile, (Malaysia) will receive the first shipment in April or May 2021,” he told a media conference on the development to procure Covid-19 vaccines here yesterday.
Malaysia previously joined the Covax facility under the ‘Optional Purchase Arrangement’ agreement which allows the government to select vaccine-manufacturing companies that participate in Covax to obtain supplies for 10 per cent of the country’s population.
Khairy, who is also the co-chairman of the Covid-19 Vaccine Supplies Access Guarantee Special Committee (JKJAV), said the government had also consulted with pharmaceutical company Pfizer on the option of adding another 20 per cent vaccine supply if needed.
“The reason why (is) because in the United States only two types of vaccines have been approved, which are Pfizer and Moderna and we know it is a sure thing,” he said.
Khairy said Malaysia had previously finalised the supply agreement for 12.8 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer which is expected to arrive in the country in stages from February 2021.
On the new mutation of the Covid-19 virus in the UK, he said Pfizer was monitoring the effectiveness of its vaccine and needed six weeks to make changes if it is found to be less effective against the new strain.
Khairy said the government was also in the final stages of negotiations with three other Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing companies, Sinovac and CanSinoBIO from China and the Gamaleya National Centre from Russia, provided those companies could add value to the country’s vaccine development.
“This includes carrying out the fill-finish (bottling) process, so we buy the vaccine in bulk, bring it here and the bottling is done here. This is an important process before we have the capacity to carry out the entire vaccine development process,” he said.
Khairy said the government was also looking at companies which could forge partnerships in research and development (R&D) as well as technology transfer with local companies.
He said the government is negotiating for access to 14 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine from Sinovac and 6.4 million doses from Gamaleya, both of which are two-dose vaccines, while the agreement with CanSinoBIO involves 3.5 million single-dose vaccines.
Overall, Khairy said all the agreements would cover 82.8 per cent of Malaysia’s population, involving a total cost of RM2.05 billion.
On Malaysia’s delay in getting the Covid-19 vaccine compared to some countries such as Singapore and Canada, he said the country’s financial position was not on par with other developed countries.
“No company can provide 100 per cent supply to Malaysia because developed countries bought (the vaccines) earlier than us as they can offer more and they can make decisions because their budgets are much bigger than us.
“Canada, for example, has bought enough vaccines to give to its people five times over. They have 500 per cent population coverage. Our pockets are not that deep,” he said. — Bernama