KUALA LUMPUR, June 5 — Malaysia has urged China, Japan and South Korea to collaborate with Asean member countries in developing a Covid-19 vaccine.
At the Special ASEAN Plus Three Economic Ministers’ Virtual Conference Meeting on Covid-19 Response yesterday, Senior Minister of International Trade and Industry Mohamed Azmin Ali also urged Asean to consider procuring vaccines for the coronavirus as a bloc to increase availability for the region.
“Korea and China, being advanced on their vaccine trials, should also consider allowing Asean member states to produce vaccines to drive costs down and ensure mass availability and accelerate Asean as a region for biotech innovation,” Azmin said in a statement.
The Korea Herald reported yesterday that the first clinical trials of a potential Covid-19 vaccine produced by US immunotherapy company Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc are scheduled to begin in South Korea this month.
As for China, Bloomberg reported that a front-running Covid-19 vaccine candidate, jointly developed by the Beijing Institute of Biological Products and China National Biotec Group Co., has completed Phase 2 tests and could be available in the market by year-end or early next year.
Azmin also emphasised at yesterday’s virtual conference that support from the private sector is vital in complementing initiatives taken by governments to address the negative impacts from the pandemic on the economic sectors and livelihoods of people in Asean.
“The strategic collaboration between governments and the private sector is indeed a manifestation of the Asean theme this year, which is to act in a ‘Cohesive and Responsive’ manner in dealing with the challenges,” he said.
He further added that Malaysia has had to strike the right balance between protecting people from the pandemic and preserving the economy, noting that the government has implemented three stimulus packages worth RM280 billion to support various segments of the community.
Azmin expressed his gratitude towards China, South Korea and Japan for their assistance and support in the region’s battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The senior minister also shared that Malaysia is in the process of developing a test kit to detect the level of a person’s antibodies against the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease.