KUALA LUMPUR, April 1 — It is unclear if Covid-19 vaccine shipments for Malaysia from COVAX will be affected by South Korea’s smaller-than-expected delivery volumes for the global vaccine-sharing programme in March, Unicef said.
India’s temporary export curbs on AstraZeneca-Oxford’s coronavirus vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India have reportedly led to a delay and reduced volume of doses promised under COVAX for South Korea.
This occurred amid production delays at South Korea’s SK Bioscience’s vaccine manufacturing plant that affected the country’s AstraZeneca vaccine shipments for COVAX participating economies last month. Malaysia’s COVAX order of AstraZeneca’s vaccine is produced in South Korea.
“Although the vaccine shipments for COVAX from the manufacturing plant in South Korea are lower for the month of March, it is still unclear to what extent, if at all, this will affect supply timelines for Malaysia,” Dr Rashed Mustafa Sarwar, Unicef representative to Malaysia and special representative to Brunei, told CodeBlue yesterday.
“Despite worldwide difficulties in the production and procurement of vaccines against Covid-19, Unicef continues to work with the Ministry of Health to bring vaccines to Malaysia.
“COVAX retains its objective of supplying initial doses of vaccines to all participating economies in the first half of the year before ramping up significantly in the second half of 2021. To date, COVAX has shipped vaccines to over 50 countries and economies.”
Unicef is a distributing partner of COVAX that is co-led by the World Health Organization (WHO), vaccine alliance Gavi, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).
Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin previously told CodeBlue that Malaysia was expecting delivery of 1.38 million doses through COVAX from South Korea in the second quarter of the year.
He told a press conference yesterday that he did not expect India’s vaccine export ban to affect Malaysia since Malaysia’s COVAX order is delivered from South Korea, unless there are problems with the supply chain.
The science, technology and innovation minister also announced that Malaysia will be receiving in June 600,000 doses of the directly procured AstraZeneca vaccine that is manufactured in Thailand.