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KUALA LUMPUR, April 8 — Malaysia has decided to join Covax to show global solidarity and to push for vaccine equity for all, said Coordinating Minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin.
Covax is co-led by the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, and the World Health Organisation. It aims to accelerate the development and production of Covid-19 vaccines, and guarantees fair and equitable access for every country in the world.
According to Khairy who is also the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, many parts of the world, especially low and middle-income countries are struggling to get access to vaccine supply and also did not have the capability or capacity to manufacture their own home-grown vaccine.
“The developed countries have cornered much of the supplies and poorer countries now have to rely on facilities like Covax to get their vaccines. This inequity is injustice.
“Malaysia pre-empted this and started negotiating early, including with AstraZeneca, to secure enough supply to immunise about 80 per cent of the population by end of this year,” he said in his keynote address through Zoom application at AstraZeneca Health Innovation Hub launching today.
He noted that credit must be given to AstraZeneca, a science-led biopharmaceutical company for deciding to sell its vaccines at cost during the pandemic to ensure vaccine equity as well as make up a big portion of the Covax vaccine supply.
Malaysia is scheduled to start receiving the delivery of AstraZeneca vaccine in May, which involved the procurement of 6.4 million doses for the use of 3.2 million people.
Other than that, Khairy said Malaysia’s lack of capability to produce human vaccines for now, is a wake-up call for him and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) to build up capabilities, especially in the healthcare sector, which includes the development of human vaccine from Research and Development (R&D) to manufacturing.
In that respect, he congratulated Sunway University and AstraZeneca on the establishment of the first Health Innovation Hub in Malaysia which would strategically support the development of a more robust primary care ecosystem in Malaysia as well as to strengthen the position of this country on the innovation front in the healthcare space.
“As the country’s first such innovation hub that brings together the resources of an academic establishment and a multinational pharma company, the site at Sunway Innovation Labs (Sunway iLabs) will provide a strategic platform to facilitate R&D, digital and commercial collaboration with local stakeholders and start-ups,” he added.
The hub is part of the AstraZeneca A. Catalyst Network and the tenth hub launched in emerging markets, together with the hubs located in Russia, Brazil, Argentina, India, Singapore and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, as well as mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Through the A. Catalyst Network, AstraZeneca is co-creating challenge-based solutions with and for patients, and working with partners to establish integrated healthcare systems that benefit the whole patient experience from prevention and awareness, diagnosis and treatment to post-treatment and wellness. — Bernama