Malaysia to stop using Sinovac once supply finishes, will instead offer Pfizer-BioNTech

File photo depicting syringes filled with the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

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By Karen Bong

KUCHING, July 16: Malaysia will stop administering China’s Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine once its supply ends, and will instead opt for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine as the mainstay of the country’s mass inoculation drive moving forward.

Health Minister Dato Sri Dr Adham Baba, in revealing this at a press conference yesterday, emphasised that the move was decided as the country has sufficient number of other vaccines for its National Covid-19 Inoculation Programme (NCIP).

“The country has secured 45.79 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which is enough to cover 70 per cent of the 22.2 million population, as compared to 16 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine.

“About half of the 16 million doses of Sinovac vaccines have been distributed to the different states, so the rest will be used to cover the second doses,” he said.

Dr Adham added that the portion of the population who have yet to be vaccinated will be given the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.

With that, Datuk Seri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah added that the usage of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be enhanced at all vaccination centres throughout the country.

According to various national daily news reports, the Federal government had previously secured 12 million Sinovac doses, as part of a deal which would see state-linked firm Pharmaniaga carrying out a fill-and-finish process on the vaccine for local distribution.

The announcement to stop using Sinovac’s inactivated virus vaccine comes amid increasing concern over its efficacy against new and more contagious variants of the coronavirus.

Neighbouring Thailand this week said it would use the AstraZeneca vaccine as a second dose for those who received the Sinovac shot, while Indonesia is considering a booster shot for those who received the two-dose Sinovac course.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, who was also present, pointed out that other vaccines approved in Malaysia include AstraZeneca, Pfizer-BioNTech, Sinovac as well as the single-dose China’s CanSino Biologic and Johnson & Johnson (J&J)’s Janssen.

Meanwhile, the Drug Control Authority (DCA) has approved the emergency use of the Sinopharm and J&J Covid-19 vaccines today.

Dr Noor Hisham emphasised that the conditional registration approval required information on the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine products to be monitored and evaluated based on the latest data from time to time.

“This is to ensure that the benefit over risk ratio for these vaccine products remains positive,” he said. — DayakDaily