Dr Noor Hisham: Malaysia to start final testing for Covid-19 vaccine to ensure population suitability

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya December 2, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya December 2, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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PUTRAJAYA, Dec 4 — Malaysia will soon embark on the third phase clinical trial for the one of its Covid-19 vaccine candidates, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah today.

He said the trial will use the inactivated virus vaccine that was developed by China’s Institute of Medical Biology Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing.

“We decided to carry out the trial following the first and second phase clinical trials, which indicated the vaccine is safe and produced good results,” Dr Noor Hisham said during his press conference.

However, he stressed that the main objective of conducting the third-phase clinical trial for the vaccine is to ensure it is suitable for the Malaysian population.

“The study aims to further investigate the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. It may work in populations in other countries, but what about Malaysia?

“The trial has been registered under the National Medical Research Registry, and will be conducted by a principal investigator under the ministry, with assistance from a local clinical research organisation,” Dr Noor Hisham said.

The trial, he said, will be conducted in eight centres under the ministry’s supervision, located in hospitals around the country.

“These include the Ampang Hospital, the Sarawak General Hospital, the Sungai Bulah Hospital in Selangor, the Penang Hospital and the Seberang Jaya Hospital in Penang, the Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital in Kedah and the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Klang.

“Hopefully by this coming Thursday (December 10) we will review the trial with the Medical Research and Ethics Committee, to look into the legal and research ethics aspects.

“Once approved, we can probably start the study by the end of this month or next year,” he said, adding that the trial is expected to involve 3,000 participants.

On Wednesday, the United Kingdom became the first country in the world to approve the usage of the Covid-19 vaccine developed by multinational pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer and German biotechnology company BioNTech on its populace as the number of infections and deaths there continue to surge.

British Health Secretary Matt Hancock was reported to have said the first 800,000 doses will be made available by next week. An estimated 40 million doses sufficient to vaccinate 20 million people have already been ordered.

Earlier on Monday, Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Pfizer will ship and directly deliver its vaccine to Malaysia by next year. He added the delivery of the 12.8 million doses will be staggered throughout 2021 instead of being delivered altogether at once.

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