Coronavirus pandemic

Infections in Malaysia fall, so China firms stop drug trials

KUALA LUMPUR • Several companies from China have pulled out from clinical trials on Covid-19 vaccines in Malaysia due to a decline in cases in the country, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said.

"We offered China to conduct clinical trials for the vaccine here, but several companies pulled out during the negotiation process as the number of Covid-19 cases was in decline," the minister said in Parliament yesterday.

"For clinical trials to be done, a lot of cases are needed, and that is why the companies from China are conducting them in UAE and Brazil, as both countries have thousands of cases."

He said the withdrawal of the Chinese companies was an indication of Malaysia's success in containing the pandemic.

"Nevertheless, we are still ready for clinical trials and have the ecosystem and ability via Clinical Research Malaysia, while the General Clinical Research Centre in Sarawak has the ability to carry out first-phase clinical trials," he added.

Mr Khairy said he would be holding a video conference with his Chinese counterpart today to further explore strategic partnership and possible access to a Covid-19 vaccine under development by several companies and institutions in China.

Responding to a supplementary question by opposition MP Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, Mr Khairy said a new road map is needed for the development of human vaccines to ensure vaccine security and self-reliance for the nation in the future.

He said that since 2006, his ministry and the Higher Education Ministry had sponsored 55 vaccine projects carried out by 16 local institutions.

Of these, he said, five human vaccines are under development, while one for pre-clinical trials is being developed to treat cholera, and 19 animal vaccines have been commercialised.

Earlier, Mr Khairy told lawmakers that genome research on the Covid-19 virus was crucial for the development of a vaccine.

He said researchers at the Malaysian Genome Institute, National Public Health Laboratory, Institute for Medical Research and Universiti Malaya have successfully isolated the virus genome from 21 local Covid-19 patients.


Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 29, 2020, with the headline Infections in Malaysia fall, so China firms stop drug trials. Subscribe