KUALA LUMPUR, JUNE 1 — Pharmaniaga Bhd will supply Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine to state governments and government-linked companies (GLCs), on top of its pledge to deliver 12 million doses to the federal government.
Health Minister Dr Adham Baba said the distribution of the vaccines to both state and private entities will run parallel with the second and third phases of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK), as part of efforts to ramp up vaccinations amid a surge of Covid-19 infections.
“Any parties, including industries and GLCs in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kelantan, Johor, and Sarawak, that would like to buy vaccines on their own will be able to do so directly,” he told a joint press conference with Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Dr Adham identified the six states as areas with high Covid-19 incidence. The government’s apparent new focus of vaccination on workers, however, comes amid a rapid rise of Covid-19 fatalities and the slow rate of inoculation among people most vulnerable to dying from the disease — the elderly and people with underlying health conditions.
“The product registration holder will be allowed to provide vaccine supplies to state governments, private entities or GLCs via direct purchase, subject to approval from the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply (JKJAV),” Dr Adham said.
Pharmaniaga has been appointed as sole manufacturer to produce Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccine via fill-and-finish, and as sole distributor to import the finished product from Sinovac’s manufacturing plant in Beijing, China.
Dr Adham said the delivery of the vaccines is expected to be carried out immediately, upon JKJAV’s approval, as the federal government has given the go-ahead on the matter.
Ismail Sabri said Pharmaniaga has received orders for seven million Covid-19 vaccine doses, consisting of four million doses from GLCs and three million doses from state governments. Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) and Tenaga Nasional Bhd are among state-owned enterprises that have placed their orders, the minister said, without naming the state governments that have ordered Sinovac vaccines from Pharmaniaga.
Pharmaniaga said it currently has the capacity to produce 500,000 doses of vaccine per week, equivalent to two million doses a month. However, its capacity is expected to be doubled by August to one million doses a week, or four million doses a month.
On May 25, PICK coordinating minister Khairy Jamaluddin had instructed Pharmaniaga to prioritise and fulfil the federal government’s entire Covid-19 vaccine order first before working on orders from other parties, including state governments. He estimated that Putrajaya would receive its entire order of 12 million Sinovac doses from Pharmaniaga by end July.
Pharmaceutical companies are typically allowed to fill product orders from various customers simultaneously in a staggered manner.
Selangor’s state government said two weeks ago that it has booked 2.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines — whose brand it did not name — and that the state plans to roll out its own coronavirus vaccination programme next month.
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said on May 21 that the state government intended to procure Covid-19 vaccines from distributors approved by the federal government or directly from vaccine manufacturers.
Only three Covid-19 vaccines have been approved by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) for use in Malaysia — Sinovac, Pfizer-BioNTech, and AstraZeneca-Oxford — all of which have been ordered by the federal government for PICK.