KUALA LUMPUR, July 16 — Malaysia already has a contingency plan if Thailand halts exports of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines made there, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin revealed today.
Khairy who is also the coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP) said that the government will hold bilateral talks with its northern “good neighbour” to continue supplying Malaysia the much needed vaccines.
“We are keenly monitoring the developments which are happening in Thailand, whereby the latest news says that there are views to halt export.
“So we will be discussing this matter on a bilateral basis with Thailand, which is our good neighbour, so that the supplies to Malaysia from the AstraZeneca factory in Thailand are not disrupted,” he said in a news conference online.
He gave an assurance that the government already has a backup plan if the bilateral talks do not succeed.
“We have a Plan B. Plan B is to increase vaccine purchase from Sinovac as we already have the fill-and-finish facility in Malaysia — Pharmaniaga.
“So Pharmaniaga knows if there is any contingency, we may call on them to produce for the federal government,” Khairy said.
Thailand’s National Vaccine Institute Director said its government is considering regulating production of AstraZeneca’s vaccines within its borders for domestic use and may stop exports, international news agency Reuters reported two days ago.
Khairy also pointed out that Malaysia has approved China’s Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use.
The Sinopharm vaccine in Malaysia is registered by pharmaceutical company Duopharma Sdn Bhd.
Khairy said that while Sinopharm is for private vaccination use, the government can still buy the stock for the NIP if necessary.
“Meanwhile, I am still working to get the delivery schedule for the CanSino vaccine, that is the one dose vaccine.
“Probably in a week or two, we will know when we will be getting the first shipment,” he added.
On June 15, Malaysia gave conditional approval for two new vaccine variants which need only one dose to be administered, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah announced.
The vaccines are the Convidecia Recombinant Novel Coronavirus Vaccine (Adenovirus Type 5 Vector), produced by CanSino Biologics Inc, China, and the Janssen Covid-19 Vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.