KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — Pharmaniaga Berhad said today it would begin supplying Sinovac Covid-19 booster vaccines in the private market, after regulators yesterday approved a third shot for those initially vaccinated with Sinovac.
Pharmaniaga’s statement means that people who had received two doses of the Chinese inactivated vaccine will need to pay for an additional Sinovac jab at selected private hospitals or clinics under the private booster vaccination programme.
Boosters with Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine are offered for free to eligible individuals — such as those aged 40 and older and frontline workers — under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) that is currently being run at private clinics managed by ProtectHealth Corporation, a Ministry of Health (MOH) owned company, as well as at public health care facilities.
The government is offering Pfizer booster shots to those who initially received two doses of the same mRNA vaccine, as well as to individuals double vaccinated with Sinovac in a “mix-and-match” approach.
Pharmaniaga managing director Zulkarnain Md Eusope said today the Sinovac vaccine will be made available at “selected private hospitals and clinics, as an option for individuals who wish to have the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine booster dose for themselves”.
“This list will be shared on Pharmaniaga’s official website,” he said.
The National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency’s (NPRA) conditional approval for homologous vaccination with Sinovac booster doses was issued amid hesitancy among double-vaccinated Sinovac recipients to get a different vaccine — Pfizer — for a third shot. The NPRA has also authorised AstraZeneca-Oxford boosters for adults initially inoculated with the same vaccine.
Pharmaniaga’s statement did not mention any new procurement by the government of Sinovac’s vaccine for the public booster inoculation programme.
The federal government purchased 20.4 million Sinovac doses as of September 13, according to parliamentary replies by Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin last month. MOH did not announce any additional Sinovac procurements since.
Most of the Sinovac vaccine supply procured by the government has already gone into arms. As of November 16, some 19.68 million Sinovac doses have been administered, according to data from MOH’s GitHub database.
Malaysia’s approach towards Sinovac booster vaccines appears to follow Singapore that only made Sinovac available in selected private health care facilities with vaccination administration fees, as the Singaporean government primarily rolled out Pfizer and Moderna, both mNRA vaccines.
Singapore only announced last October 30 that the Sinovac coronavirus vaccine would be included in its National Vaccination Programme for adults who are unable to get vaccinated with mRNA vaccines, after Singapore’s health authorities issued interim authorisation for Sinovac. The vaccination would be free of charge.