KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 — The global COVAX initiative expects to deliver 1,624,800 AstraZeneca-Oxford University Covid-19 vaccine doses to Malaysia by the first half of this year.
Coordinators of COVAX — a vaccine access mechanism co-led by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Gavi, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) — announced yesterday COVAX’s first interim distribution forecast.
The 1.6 million AstraZeneca doses for Malaysia will be manufactured by South Korea’s SK Bioscience.
COVAX coordinators said further supply is planned for the second half of the year. Malaysia has ordered a total of 6.4 million doses from COVAX to cover 3.2 million people on a two-dose regimen.
Malaysia, as an upper middle income country, paid for coronavirus vaccines from COVAX as a self-financing participant, compared to other low and middle income economies on COVAX’s Advance Market Commitment (AMC) list who will be receiving donor-funded doses.
AstraZeneca said in a statement yesterday that its vaccine was 82 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19 with a 12-week gap between two shots, according to a new study published as a preprint in The Lancet based on Phase Three clinical trials in the UK, Brazil, and South Africa.
Data has shown that the vaccine showed a 76 per cent efficacy after a first dose. AstraZeneca also said its vaccine provided 100 per cent protection against severe disease, hospitalisation, and death from Covid-19.
More importantly, a single dose of AstraZeneca’s vaccine was shown to cut positive test results by 67 per cent, and by 50 per cent after a two-dose regimen, which AstraZeneca described as a “substantial impact on transmission of the virus”. The vaccine developer did not explain why a booster dose reduced positive tests by a lesser amount.
Covid-19 vaccines generally prevent illness. It is unclear if vaccines can prevent people from transmitting coronavirus even though they do not fall sick. AstraZeneca now says that its vaccine has the potential to reduce asymptomatic transmission of the virus.
COVAX’s forecast delivery schedule will at least guarantee Malaysia doses of a vaccine approved by international regulators (the European Union and the UK have approved the AstraZeneca shot, though not the US) by June this year, amid potential delays of Pfizer vaccine shipments to Malaysia due to the European Union’s vaccine export controls.