KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 23 — The government has negotiated an option with Pfizer to double Covid-19 vaccine purchases to cover another 20 per cent of the Malaysian population if needed.
The government’s initial order from Pfizer is for 12.8 million doses to cover 20 per cent of the Malaysian population, or 6.4 million people, on its two-dose regimen.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin also reiterated that the first million doses of the coronavirus vaccine by US pharmaceutical company Pfizer Inc and its German partner, BioNTech, would arrive in Malaysia in February 2021.
“The reason why I did this is because in the US, there are only two approved vaccines — Pfizer and Moderna. So we know it’s a sure thing,” Khairy told a press conference in Putrajaya today on the government’s Covid-19 vaccination strategy.
“And NPRA (National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency) is working on the approval right now. So I want to give an option that we can increase the Pfizer order,” he added.
Khairy also revealed that the government has chosen to procure the Covid-19 vaccine by AstraZeneca and Oxford University under the COVAX portfolio to cover 10 per cent of the Malaysian population. This is on top of Malaysia’s direct negotiations with AstraZeneca for 6.4 million doses of its vaccine at cost to cover another 10 per cent of the population.
The first shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine procured from COVAX are expected to arrive in Malaysia between March and June, with subsequent doses later in the year, whereas the first orders of AstraZeneca doses procured separately in direct negotiations is estimated to arrive in April or May. AstraZeneca’s shot, however, has yet to be approved by the US’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is still undergoing Phase 3 clinical trials.
Chinese And Russian Covid-19 Vaccines
Khairy said the government would purchase 14 million coronavirus vaccine doses from China-based pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech Ltd to cover seven million Malaysians, or 22 per cent of the population; 3.5 million doses of a single-dose regimen by another Chinese company, CanSino Biologics Inc; as well as 6.4 million doses of the two-dose Sputnik V vaccine regimen by Russia’s state-run Gamaleya National Center.
Negotiations are still ongoing with those three vaccine developers, as agreements have yet to be finalised.
In total, the government has or will purchase Covid-19 vaccines to cover 82.8 per cent of the Malaysian population, or 26.5 million people, with an estimated budget of US$504.4 million (RM2.05 billion).
Khairy added that the government is also negotiating with American companies Moderna and Johnson & Johnson for their coronavirus vaccines. The US FDA has authorised the vaccine by Moderna, while preliminary results from Phase 3 trials of Johnson & Johnson’s experimental Covid-19 vaccine, a single-dose regimen, are expected in January.
In negotiations with Sinovac, CanSino, and Gamaleya, Khairy said the government was also looking at doing fill-and-finish work for their Covid-19 vaccines in Malaysia, and boosting local research and development and technology transfers.
“We felt it was important to use the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccines to add value to the local pharmaceutical companies. But we don’t want to negotiate with companies that only want to be middlemen or only distributors of Covid-19 vaccines.
“Companies that have come to see me and say ‘I’m the distributor for Vaccine A’, I will ask them, ‘what is the value add for your company?’ If they’re mere distributors, that is not enough of a value add,” said Khairy.