KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 — Vaccine minister Khairy Jamaluddin said today he will be taking the next approved Covid-19 vaccine, not the Pfizer-BioNTech shot, to boost public confidence in other vaccines.
Khairy said that people are now more confident with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, as many leaders, including Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, have taken the shot.
“Now, the public is asking, are the leaders getting good products, Pfizer is a good product and the rest is for the public?” Khairy said during a press conference after the arrival of China’s Sinovac vaccine this morning at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).
“So, I have decided yesterday that whichever vaccine that gets approved next, I will be the first person to take it.”
Khairy said it doesn’t matter if it’s the Sinovac, AstraZeneca, or Sputnik V vaccine, he will be taking the next vaccine approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).
Today, Malaysia received 300,000 out of 14 million doses procured of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine through MABKargo from Beijing, China. The Sinovac vaccine will still have to undergo fill-and-finish processing — the most critical final stage of manufacturing the product for use — at Pharmaniaga Berhad’s facility in Puchong, as the doses were imported in wholesale form.
“I have been told, Pharmaniaga, if approved, can manufacture two million doses each month,” Khairy said.
Before the process of fill-and-finish can take place, both the Sinovac vaccine and Pharmaniaga’s fill-and-finish facility will have to be approved by the very stringent NPRA first.
However, Khairy said he is not sure when NPRA will give the approval to both Sinovac and Pharmaniaga, as they are an independent regulatory agency. Malaysia has never manufactured or done fill-and-finish processing of human vaccines on a large scale before.
The Sinovac vaccine, which uses an inactivated virus, can be stored between two and eight degrees Celsius. The Chinese vaccine that has an efficacy rate between 50.4 per cent and 91.25 per cent has been used in China, Brazil, Indonesia, Turkey, Chile, and Cambodia.
Those Vaccinated Must Still Adhere To SOPs
According to Khairy, all those who are inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine should still adhere to standard operating procedures (SOPs), such as wearing a face mask or practicing social distancing.
“For now, all non-pharmaceutical interventions remain as per existing SOP; that’s not because we are not confident with the vaccines but because we simply do not have enough data yet,” Khairy said today.
“So on advisement from the DG (director-general of health), we maintain all SOPs including for people who are vaccinated.”
So far, as of yesterday, 3,580 individuals have received their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine in Malaysia.