Malaysia set to be Covid-19 vaccine bottling hub

by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

SEVERAL overseas pharmaceutical companies have expressed interest in making Malaysia the Covid-19 vaccine bottling location.

However, Science, Technology and Innovation (Mosti) Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar (picture)  said the government, via the Ministry of Health (MoH), is still evaluating data from clinical trials conducted by several companies and institutions abroad.

“MoH is in the process of viewing and analysing data from clinical trials conducted by several companies and institutions from abroad.

“Once we are satisfied with the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines of these companies, then we will purchase the vaccine,” he said at a press conference after launching the Social Impact Matching (SIM) grant at the National Science Centre in Bukit Damansara last Friday.

Khairy Jamaluddin added that he has been working closely with several countries to get detailed information on the vaccines developed by those countries.

“If we make a bulk purchase, then we will have the option to implement the ‘fill and finish’ process in Malaysia. However, we have not made any decision yet because we do not know which vaccine we will get,” he added.

Last July, Khairy Jamaluddin said Malaysia was ready to bottle the Covid-19 vaccine as soon as the vaccine was discovered.

He said, for that purpose, two government-linked companies, Duopharma Bhd and Pharmaniaga Bhd, have agreed for their factories to be used for the “fill and finish” process of the vaccine.

Meanwhile, a RM10 million SIM grant has been launched by Mosti under the government’s short-term National Economic Recovery Plan to elevate the social enterprises’ recovery in the country.

Khairy Jamaluddin said this grant aims to provide financial sustainability to assist social enterprises and businesses in accelerating their recovery post-Covid-19 pandemic.

He also added that the grant is timely as social enterprises, many of which employ resources from marginalised or B40 communities, have been severely affected by the pandemic.

“Social innovation raises the spirit of cooperation, bringing together government and private institutions and community in shaping innovative solutions towards an inclusive and progressive economy,” he said.

Khairy Jamaluddin said the grant would also encourage the private sector to invest in solutions that will benefit society in terms of sustainable national development, apart from just channelling donations.

At the launch, the Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC) also introduced a #BuyForImpact campaign to increase market channels for social enterprises, while instilling social awareness among consumers.

The campaign is also aimed at cultivating “doing good” as the new norm and help rebuild the livelihood of communities which have been impacted as a result of the pandemic.

Through an alliance with Lazada Group, the campaign will allow Malaysians to purchase a wide range of products in September such as up-cycled denim, layered cakes, heirloom rice, and arts and crafts made by the B40 and marginalised communities.

To further assist social enterprises in their crowdfunding initiatives, MaGIC has also partnered six crowdfunding platforms, namely GIVE.asia, LaunchGood, NGOhub, Sedunia, SimplyGiving and Sociobiz by Alliance Islamic Bank Malaysia Bhd.

Successful grant applicants will benefit from a 20% rebate on platform fees, for the first RM1 million raised on each of these crowdfunding platforms.

The grant application is open for one year starting from Sept 1 or upon full disbursement of the RM10 million, whichever comes first.

It will be deployed via a 1:1 matching mechanism and made available to eligible applicants with successful crowdfunding initiatives.

The grant provides a minimum of RM5,000, up to a maximum of RM500,000 matching grant per application.

However, the threshold for maximum grant disbursement is based on the type of applicants — an accredited social enterprise, non-accredited social enterprise and any other individual or entity.