KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 – Malaysia plans to donate more of its Covid-19 vaccines to other countries, as many are just months away from expiry.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin today said the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Pharmaceutical Services Division has recommended redirecting some of Malaysia’s Covid-19 vaccine stock to other countries that have substantially greater need.
“We’d like to inform the media that we have never thrown away any Covid vaccines — there is no need to throw them away, everything is used before the expiration date. However, if there is a need, we will make contributions as we have done with Bangladesh and Laos,” Khairy said at a news conference in Putrajaya.
“The Pharmaceutical Services Division recently recommended that we donate some Covid vaccines that, if unused, will expire in the next few months,” he added.
Khairy did not specify the amount of Covid vaccines involved in the giveaway, but said the MOH and the Foreign Affairs Ministry will soon finalise the list of recipient countries.
Malaysia previously donated 559,200 AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine doses to Bangladesh and another 283,400 AstraZeneca vaccine doses to Laos in December last year.
CodeBlue reported earlier today that over 409,000 AstraZeneca doses may go to waste from the latest and final batch of 1,365,200 AstraZeneca shots received on February 16 from the government’s direct order of 6.4 million doses.
According to the lot release certificates issued by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), this vaccine batch, divided into lot numbers A1168 (690,900 doses) and A1169 (674,300 doses), will expire on May 31.
The average number of AstraZeneca doses administered daily on average in the past two weeks suggest that the government will take more than four months to clear the February 16 batch — going past the expiry date.
Reuters reported last week that AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine has a relatively short shelf life, complicating its rollout in the global Covax vaccine-sharing programme to deliver shots to poorer countries like in Africa.
Africa’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention previously said last January that donated Covid-19 vaccines to the continent should come with a shelf life of three to six months, due to logistical challenges in transporting the vaccines to rural communities that can sometimes take weeks.