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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 – Malaysia is set to receive China’s Sinovac vaccine for Covid-19 on Saturday, the second brand of vaccine within a span of one week, after welcoming the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, thus further strengthening the country’s economic recovery path.
The Sinovac vaccine, called CoronaVac, was secured through a supply agreement involving 14 million doses inked between Pharmaniaga Bhd and Chinese pharmaceutical company, Sinovac Life Sciences Co Ltd.
Pharmaniaga chairman Datuk Dr Hafsah Hashim said out of the total, 12 million doses would be supplied to the Health Ministry while the remaining two million doses would be channelled to private hospitals, and the entire distribution exercise was expected to be completed by year-end.
She said the vaccines carried on special aircraft operated by Malaysia’s cargo carrier, MAB Kargo Sdn Bhd, will arrive at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at 9 am Saturday, tentatively.
Among the dignitaries expected to welcome the vaccine arrival at KLIA are China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Ouyang Yujing, four local ministers, and Pharmaniaga board members.
The ministers are Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba; Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin (who is also the Coordinating Minister for National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme); Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob; and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.
Malaysia’s Covid-19 Immunisation Programme kicked off on Wednesday, Feb 24, 2021, with priority given to frontliners.
Hafsah said as a much-sought-after product, the vaccine would be securely escorted by the Malaysian Armed Forces and the Royal Malaysia Police to the small volume injectable high-tech plant owned by Pharmaniaga’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Pharmaniaga LifeSciences Sdn Bhd, in Puchong, Selangor.
“Alhamdulillah, so far everything goes according to the plan.
“By virtue of the fact that Pharmaniaga is directly owned by Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT), therefore the defence team is taking good care of (the situation) and providing all the security needed.
“We also got full support from the Chinese Embassy to bring in the vaccine to Malaysia, and at the same time, our manufacturing facilities have been completely upgraded (accommodate the vaccines),” she told Bernama.
Under the agreement, Pharmaniaga will carry out the fill and finish process of the CoronaVac vaccine. The company had previously said it has a fill-and-finish capacity of two million doses per month and that Sinovac’s vaccine will be the first to be manufactured in the country.
Updating the registration status to supply the CoronaVac vaccine in Malaysia, Hafsah said the approval would likely be granted by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency as early as early-March.
“We are hoping to get it in this one, two weeks. Once approved, we can immediately roll-out the vaccine (distribution) nationwide,” she said.
Hafsah said the Sinovac vaccine is deemed halal, or permissible under Islamic Law by the Indonesian Ulema Council, and Pharmaniaga is in the midst of getting its halal certification from the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM).
She gave the assurance that Pharmaniaga’s manufacturing plant itself has been certified halal by JAKIM and was confident the vaccine would receive its certification soon.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, and Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam were among the leaders that have received the Sinovac vaccine.
On the home front, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday spearheaded the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme and became the first person in the country to be injected with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the Putrajaya Health Clinic in Precinct 11.
Similarly, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong received his first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Jan 8.
According to the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Guide Book, published by The Special Committee for Ensuring Access to Covid-19 Vaccine Supply, the efficacy of the vaccine is in the range of 50.4 per cent to 91.25 per cent.
Individuals will require two doses of CoronaVac with a 14-day interval between the first and second dose to ensure its efficacy, while the storage temperature for the vaccine is at two to eight degrees Celsius.
CoronaVac is an inactivated vaccine, which makes use of killed virus particles to trigger the body’s immune response to a virus, a method commonly used in vaccines for diseases such as polio, and it is suitable for those with weak immune systems. — Bernama