PETALING JAYA: The first batch of China’s CoronaVac vaccine has arrived in Malaysia and is being stored at the Pharmaniaga facility where it will be processed into 300,000 doses.
Developed by Sinovac Life Sciences Co Ltd, the vaccine journeyed from the plant in Beijing, China, and arrived in bulk totalling 200 litres.
The aircraft carrying the vaccine, flight MH319 operated by MASkargo, touched down at KL International Airport at 8.55am yesterday.
The batch was flown in on an Airbus A300 passenger-to-cargo flight, which bore the Jalur Gemilang livery.
Present at the airport were Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong and Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Ouyang Yujing were also present.
Dr Wee commended the pilot of the aircraft.
“Well done to the female pilot, MH319 flight officer Nur Waie Hidayah Mohamad Rasidin, for carrying out her duty to bring in the Sinovac vaccine.
“Hoping that the vaccine will be bottled quickly and will be given approval by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) in the nearest time possible, ” he said in a Facebook post.
The vaccine was transported to the Pharmaniaga plant in Taman Perindustrian Puchong Utama in two trucks accompanied by police escort vehicles.
Malaysia is scheduled to obtain 14 million doses of CoronaVac in stages for vaccination of 22% of the population.
Ouyang said the first delivery of the CoronaVac vaccines demonstrated the friendship and cooperation between China and Malaysia.
“The arrival of the first batch of the vaccine in bulk shows the tangible achievements of China-Malaysia vaccine cooperation and represents the deep friendship between the Chinese and Malaysian people.
“The first batch of Sinovac (CoronaVac) vaccine in bulk will be packaged into over 300,000 doses of vaccine by Pharmaniaga.
“The additional 100,000 doses of the vaccine are already good for emergency use and will arrive as soon as the registration is approved, ” he said at a press conference.
Ouyang added that Malaysia and China had engaged in a number of vaccine agreements, besides the CoronaVac vaccine.
“China’s CanSinoBIO and Malaysia’s Health Ministry are in the midst of negotiating a supply agreement to provide 3.5 million doses of vaccines to Malaysia.
“China’s Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products Co Ltd and Malaysia’s Yong Tai Bhd have entered an agreement to conduct Phase III clinical trials and upon success, no less than 10 million doses of the vaccine will be provided to Malaysia per year within five years.
“China’s Institute of Medical Biology Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (IMBCAMS) is currently conducting phase III clinical trials in Malaysia, which are progressing smoothly, ” he said, adding that he would not rule out the possibility that more vaccine agreements and cooperation between both nations would take place in the future.
“China will continue to work with Malaysia and other countries to strengthen our cooperation on vaccines, pandemic prevention and control, economic recovery and other fields.
“Despite the huge domestic demand for vaccines, we still deliver (based) on President Xi Jinping’s solemn commitment of making Chinese vaccines a global public good and to do our utmost to provide assistance to the international community, ” he said.
At the same press conference, Khairy, who is also coordinating minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, said although the CoronaVac deal was between Sinovac and Pharmaniaga, it also demonstrated intergovernmental cooperation.
“While the delivery this morning has been made possible through a commercial agreement between Pharmaniaga and Sinovac, it is also part of an agreement between China and Malaysia that was signed by myself and my Chinese counterpart Wang Zhigang, ” he said.
Khairy added that part of the regulatory process for the CoronaVac vaccine’s approval involved assessing the bottling process, which will be undertaken by Pharmaniaga.
He was responding to queries about why the first batch of CoronaVac vaccines was being brought to Malaysia before it was approved by the NPRA.
He explained that there were two approval processes involved, namely evaluation of the actual vaccine itself and the bottling process by Pharmaniaga.
“Many are asking why we are receiving vaccines that are yet to obtain approval from the regulatory agency.
“This is because the regulatory process also involves assessing how the vaccine will be manufactured or bottled by Pharmaniaga, after which the vaccine can be approved.
“For NPRA to give approval for Pharmaniaga to conduct the fill-and-finish process, it has to also assess Pharmaniaga’s processes, and that cannot be done if we don’t have the vaccine.
“This (first) batch is a bulk delivery of the vaccine; this is not the finished product. This is different from vaccines that enter the country in the form of vials, ” he said.
Khairy compared this to other countries such as Singapore that already received the CoronaVac vaccine as a finished product but had not approved them for use yet.
If the CoronaVac vaccine is approved in Malaysia, he said, Pharmaniaga was expected to produce two million doses every month.