Malaysia in talks to secure more vaccines from Russia, Pfizer

Malaysia is in talks to secure 6.4 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V vaccine. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Malaysia is in talks to buy 6.4 million doses of Russia's Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine and wants to increase its purchases from US drugmaker Pfizer-BioNTech, as the country looks to beef up its arsenal against the pandemic.

The South-east Asian nation is spending about US$500 million (S$668 million) to buy enough vaccines to inoculate 26.5 million people, or 82.8 per cent of its people.

It has already secured 12.8 million doses from Pfizer under a deal signed last month, and earlier this week agreed to buy 6.4 million doses from AstraZeneca.

Malaysia also expects to secure more from Chinese and Russian manufacturers, as well as from its participation in the global Covax facility, backed by the World Health Organisation.

The government had increased its vaccine supply targets to take into account risks that some vaccines may not be approved by regulators or if manufacturers failed to deliver, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told reporters. "We want to have a little bit more of a buffer," he said.

In addition to the talks with Russia's Gamaleya Institute, the developer of the Sputnik V Vaccine, Malaysia is also in discussions with Chinese manufacturers Sinovac Biotech Ltd and CanSino Biologics to purchase their vaccines.

The deals with the Chinese and Russian manufacturers will include cooperation with Malaysian companies to carry out fill-and-finish work, Mr Khairy said.

The Malaysian government is also in negotiations with Pfizer on an option to increase its purchase of vaccines to cover another 20 per cent of its population, Khairy added.

The first shipment of the 12.8 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine is expected to arrive in February.

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