KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 21 — The Covid-19 vaccine produced by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will have to go through five phases before it can be approved for use in Malaysia, the Health director-general said today.
Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah explained that the five phases are necessary to identify the vaccine’s effectiveness and who will get it first.
He said Pfizer’s application to be registered with the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) was received on December 15.
“We are currently looking at it,” he told a news conference broadcasted from Putrajaya.
“Based on the documents we received, we will start evaluating the products quality and efficacy and we also have 11 medical experts to help look into these documents.
“We may take around 90-120 days to scrutinise everything and make sure it is safe to use. That is the first step,” Dr Noor Hisham explained.
“The second step is to make sure we can procure these vaccines and have the logistics to handle it. Third is who gets priority over this?
“We will look to the frontliners and also the most vulnerable groups as the first receivers. The fourth step is to monitor the after effects of the use of these vaccines.
“The last step is to look on a whole whether or not this vaccine is able to stop the spread of Covid-19, meaning we look into the effectiveness of the product in curbing infections.”
On November 24, the government announced that it had secured an initial supply of 12.8 million doses of vaccine from Pfizer, enough to give free immunisation to 6.4 million Malaysians or 20 per cent of the population.
The first delivery of one million doses will be made in the first quarter of next year, which will be followed by 1.7 million doses (second quarter), 5.8 million doses (third quarter) and 4.3 million doses (fourth quarter).
On December 19, the government announced an agreement with AstraZeneca of the United Kingdom to purchase Covid-19 vaccine to meet the immunisation needs of 20 per cent of the people in the country.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said this is the third agreement after the government signed with Covax to buy 10 per cent of its vaccine needs and with Pfizer.