Inoculation with Sinovac vaccine as early as April, says Pharmaniaga

About 1m doses will be given to Malaysians in April and will then be increased to 2m doses per month between May and October

by S BIRRUNTHA / pic by TMR FILE

MALAYSIA is expected to receive 14 million doses of Sinovac Life Sciences Co Ltd’s Covid-19 vaccine in stages with the first supply to be distributed in April this year.

Pharmaniaga Bhd group MD Datuk Zulkarnain Md Eusope (picture) said, however, the Sinovac vaccine is still subject to the approval of the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).

“We have submitted the registration application for Sinovac’s Covid-19 vaccines to NPRA on Jan 19, 2020. Currently, the NPRA is reviewing our application.

“It will take about three weeks to one month for the registration to be approved as it goes through all the rigorous and stringent processes that are conducted professionally,” he said in a virtual media briefing yesterday.

On Jan 12, Pharmaniaga had partnered China’s Sinovac for the supply of 14 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to cover 22% population in Malaysia.

Zulkarnain added that for a start, about one million doses will be given to Malaysians in April, while the supply would then be increased to two million doses per month between May and October.

“Malaysians do not have to worry because this vaccine formula is proven to be safe and there is no significant difference with the other vaccine that country has procured. We have already applied for permission to get the vaccine for emergency purposes and it is expected that in early April, this vaccine will be ready to be supplied in Malaysia,” he noted.

He said the Sinovac vaccine had been approved and administered to Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On the halal status of the Sinovac vaccine, Zulkarnain said, Pharmaniaga has already studied, as well as researched the formula and ingredients of the vaccine involved.

“The status of this vaccine from China is halal because it also receives the halal recognition from the Indonesian ulema council,” he said.

Meanwhile, Zulkarnain said the government’s vaccination programme is expected to take about 18 months to cover Malaysia’s population but Pharmaniaga will expedite the process within one year to halt the chain of infection.

He added that although the government’s priority is to vaccinate the public sector first, Pharmaniaga will also consider the private sector in supplying the Covid-19 vaccines.

He said out of 14 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine, a total of 12 million doses will be used for the government’s vaccination programme, while the balance two million doses are likely to be sold to government-linked companies (GLCs), expatriates and economic frontliners.

“The government has asked us to look into how we can supply to the private sectors, especially the GLCs, the economic frontliners of Covid-19 and also to the expatriates and foreign workers. We are collecting data. When we have enough supply and after we complete the analysis, we will discuss with the government on how we distribute to the private sectors,” he said.

For the time being, Zulkarnain said companies are not allowed to distribute the vaccine to the general public.

He said Pharmaniaga, which has embarked into halal vaccination manufacturing since 2018, has no issue in distributing the Chinese vaccines, especially as it takes a standard refrigerator at 2°C-8°C to handle the vaccine.

“We are confident that we can distribute the vaccines efficiently, as instructed by the government and Health Ministry.

“We have handled these kinds of vaccines before and we don’t have a problem to handle and distribute vaccines like Sinovac that require the same temperature. For us, it is like a normal day-to-day operation.”

Zulkarnain said the country is expected to achieve herd immunity in one year from the arrival of the initial supply of vaccines.


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