Malaysia to get AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine, follows Pfizer-BioNTech deal

The government is also in talks with other pharmaceutical companies to secure more vaccines.
The government is also in talks with other pharmaceutical companies to secure more vaccines.PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) - Malaysia said on Saturday (Dec 19) it has secured coronavirus vaccine from AstraZeneca PLC, on the heels of news it will receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in February as it grapples with a surge in infections. 

The AstraZeneca deal, to be signed on Monday, will allow immunisation of about 20 per cent of Malaysia’s population of 32 million, similar to that of the deal with US giant Pfizer Inc and its German partner BioNTech SE, said Health Minister Adham Baba. 

The South-east Asian nation has seen a spike in cases since September, with nearly 92,000 cases of the new coronavirus and 433 Covid-19 deaths. 

Malaysia expects to receive enough vaccines to inoculate 10 per cent of the population through the global Covax facility, backed by the World Health Organisation, he said in a statement.

The government is working to secure more deals to expand inoculation to 70 per cent of the population, Datuk Seri Adham said. 

"What is important is which company can provide us quick access to their vaccine and that it must be safe, effective and of high quality," he said. 

The government expects to receive the first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses in February, national news wire Bernama said. 

Last month, Malaysia announced it had agreed to buy 12.8 million doses of the vaccine, becoming the first country in South-east Asia to strike a deal with the US drugmaker.

Under the deal, Pfizer will deliver the first one million doses in the first quarter of 2021, with 1.7 million, 5.8 million and 4.3 million doses to follow in subsequent quarters.

Pfizer and their German partners BioNTech have supply deals with several countries including the United States, Germany, Japan, Canada, Australia and Britain.

They expect to produce globally up to 50 million doses of vaccines in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses in 2021.

More than 150 potential vaccines are being developed and tested globally to stop the Covid-19 pandemic, with 48 in human trials, the WHO says.