KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 — Vaccine Minister Khairy Jamaluddin today instructed Pharmaniaga Bhd to prioritise the federal government’s order of 12 million doses of Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine ahead of orders by state governments.
He said the local pharmaceutical company should deliver the federal government’s order either by importing the finished product from China or producing it locally in its Puchong factory through the fill-and-finish process, the last stage of manufacturing.
“The reason why this finished product issue came up is because previously, there was no availability of finished products,” Khairy told a virtual press conference today.
“Now I’ve told Pharmaniaga I would like the entire order of 12 million doses for the Malaysian government, for the National Immunisation Programme, to be delivered and fulfilled first, regardless whether it’s fill-and-finish or the finished product.
“As a result of that, any further orders from the states for the finished product from the Sinovac factory in Beijing will be after the federal government’s order is fulfilled in its entirety.”
The Sarawak state government recently announced that it had procured a million doses of Sinovac’s coronavirus vaccine, while the Selangor state administration said earlier today that it has booked 2.5 million doses of an approved Covid-19 vaccine, without specifying if it is the Sinovac, Pfizer-BioNTech, or AstraZeneca-Oxford shot.
Khairy said in response that he has informed Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah Embas that there is no need for the state government to purchase any extra coronavirus vaccines, including any finished Sinovac vaccines from China.
“I will deliver for Sarawak as I will deliver for all the other states as soon as we get our vaccine supplies from Sinovac, from Pfizer, as well as from AstraZeneca. I’ve given an assurance to the Deputy Chief Minister of Sarawak, and he’s happy with the assurance I’ve given him.”
On Selangor’s purported procurement of Sinovac’s vaccine and the state’s plans to launch its own Covid-19 vaccination programme next month, Khairy said that while states can start their own vaccine rollouts, vaccine availability remains an issue.
“I can tell you categorically that if Selangor is referring to Sinovac vaccines, then the national programme is prioritised. I don’t know when Selangor will receive the vaccines that they claim they have bought.”
Selangor state executive councillor for public health Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud told reporters earlier that employers registering for the state’s Covid-19 inoculation programme are required to pay deposit fees to avoid cancellations should their employees get free vaccines under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK).
“It’s very important for the public to only register through the approved national immunisation programme. That is currently the only programme that has procured vaccines that are recognised by the NPRA (National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency).
“Any other programme for now, I don’t know where the vaccines are coming from. I don’t know where or when the vaccines will arrive, or how much you’ll have to pay, what kind of deposits you’ll have to put down.
“But as far as the federal government is concerned, the National Immunisation Programme is the only vaccination programme for Covid-19 right now. It is free of charge and it’s being implemented in PPV (vaccination sites) across the country, including at selected GPs’ clinics, which have been selected through ProtectHealth under the National Immunisation Programme.”
When asked if importing Sinovac vaccines from China meant a failure of the government’s initial goal of technology transfer and adding value for local companies in the Covid-19 vaccination programme, Khairy said he believed “some” of Putrajaya’s order would be filled through the fill-and-finish process.
“So the fill-and-finish investment will still be worthwhile for Pharmaniaga to do,” said Khairy.
He added that the remainder of the federal government’s order of 12 million doses of Sinovac’s vaccine would be delivered via Pharmaniaga’s fill-and-finish process, as Sinovac doesn’t have that amount of finished vaccines from China for Malaysia currently.
“So we’re in talks with Pharmaniaga on how to divide the order between the fill-and-finish line here in Puchong and also the finished products from Beijing.”
Pharmaniaga said in a statement last May 11 that just 290,480 doses of the filled and finished Sinovac vaccines have been rolled out. Pharmaniaga’s logistics arms, Pharmaniaga Logistics Sdn Bhd, fully distributed 400,000 doses of finished Sinovac vaccines imported from Beijing between March and May.
Pharmaniaga claimed that it is able to produce two million doses per month and that as of May 10, it has manufactured 1,284,147 doses of Sinovac’s vaccine, of which 290,480 doses have been rolled out following “lot release” approval by the NPRA for distribution to Ministry of Health (MOH) facilities.
Khairy also told reporters today that a local party has come forward to register Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine in Malaysia, which he said will be left to the private market “because Moderna is very expensive”.
On Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, the science, technology and innovation minister explained that the approval process was ongoing, saying: “I think NPRA is not entirely satisfied with the data points provided by Duopharma, which is the local registration holder.”
Editor’s note on May 24: This article is being used as part of a fake WhatsApp message that does not represent the news originally reported by CodeBlue.