KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 — Malaysia will receive 32 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines by this year as part of a new agreement signed with the government, Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin announced today.
The supply is an increase from the previous signed deal from the US-based drug manufacturer and will cover the first dose requirement of virtually all of the country’s population.
“I am pleased to announce that following negotiations with Pfizer we will sign [an agreement] for an additional supply of vaccines of which they would provide up to 32 million doses,” the minister said at the weekly National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme briefing.
“This will account for 50 per cent of our population. Initially it was 20, then to 39 and now we will finalise to procure 50 per cent [doses] for our population.”
Pfizer had also offered to supply doses to cover up to 20 percentage points more, Khairy added, but said negotiations for the additional procurement is still underway.
“They’ve offered to supply another 20 [percentage points but] we are negotiating and are still considering if we are to increase it.”
The government is expected to sign the agreement this week, the minister said.
Malaysia received its first shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine on February 21 after months of anticipation to kickstart the first phase of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme that would span February 26 until the end of March.
The first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine developed by United States pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German firm BioNTech comprises a total of 312,390 doses.
Khairy said today the government is on schedule to administer the first dose of vaccine on over 520,000 people selected for the initial phase by this month, mostly involving healthcare frontline workers.
Putrajaya had previously expressed confidence that it could ramp up immunisation to cover at least 80 per cent of the country’s 32 million over population by year-end, two months ahead of the February 2021 deadline, but success will hinge on adequacy of vaccine supply among others.
Khairy said Putrajaya is still negotiating with other suppliers to procure more. Among them are China’s CanSino Biologics and US-based Novavax.
If signed, the Chinese firm will be the first supplier to provide a single dose vaccine. Meanwhile Novavax’s vaccine was found to have an 89 per cent efficacy rate based on the latest clinical trial held in the United Kingdom, according to the minister.
“We feel that this is the better option compared to Johnson & Johnson which will only be able to deliver theirs by the fourth quarter,” the minister announced.
“So we’re trying to precipitate the negotiations so we can have these single-shot vaccines in our portfolio.”
CodeBlue, an online healthcare news site, reported that Solution Biologics has a 10-year exclusive licence from China’s CanSino Biologics to undertake a fill-and-finish manufacturing process of CanSino’s single-shot vaccine here.
The company, Solution Group Berhad, will also hold exclusive rights to distribute them to public and private health care providers, as well as to export the vaccines to other countries in Southeast Asia.
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