KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 92 research and development (R&D) projects on Covid-19 have been implemented since last year, says Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad.
"In 2020, the Higher Education Ministry approved 32 R&D projects under the ministry's development policy related to Covid-19 involving fundamental studies, prototype development and policy studies.
"Whereas in 2021, a total of 60 high-impact research projects were implemented under the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme covering various aspects which are still ongoing," the Higher Education Minister said in reply to Rubiah Wang (GPS-Kota Samarahan) in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday (Nov 2).
Apart from this, she said the ministry was working with the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry (Mosti), under the Mosti Combating Covid-19 Fund (MCCOF), to develop a Covid-19 vaccine through Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).
She said R&D of the vaccine was based on the Newcastle disease virus and carried out between March and August this year.
She added that the project, with a RM2.6mil grant, was headed by Prof Datin Dr Khatijah Yusoff.
Noraini said Prof Datuk Mohd Hair Bejo from UPM is also collaborating with the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) and the Veterinary Research Institute to develop a Covid-19 vaccine.
Besides the development of Covid-19 vaccines, she said the ministry also funded the development of a tuberculosis vaccine.
She noted that project, "Enhancing the Fundamentals for Effective Control of Tuberculosis", has since received global recognition for its impact on the community in helping to prevent the spread of the disease.
She also said collaboration with the Health Ministry and international bodies would help increase the nation's preparedness in producing experts in the field of vaccine development.
On a separate matter, Noraini said a total of 1,062 patents were registered by 20 public universities between 2016 and 2020.
Of this number, she said 306 products had been commercialised, generating revenue of RM3.3bil compared to the RM2.3bil funding for R&D.