KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia on Friday signed an agreement with Pfizer Inc to obtain its Covid-19 vaccine for 20% of the population as it battles a resurgence of coronavirus infections.
The accord for 12.8 million doses to inoculate 6.4 million people is contingent on Pfizer’s vaccine being approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and the Malaysian drug regulator, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said in a televised conference.
The announcement came on the same day that Thailand and the Philippines signed agreements to secure vaccine supplies from the UK-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca.
New daily infections in Malaysia hit a record high of 2,188 on Tuesday, of which more than half came from a cluster linked to the worker dormitories of Top Glove Corp — the world’s largest maker of surgical gloves — and threaten the $365-billion economy just when it is showing signs of improvement. The country has recorded 60,750 infections and 370 deaths since the pandemic began.
The struggle to stem the spread of the virus has put Malaysia behind Indonesia in Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking, which gauges countries’ success in fighting the virus with minimal social and business disruptions. The latter is ranked 19th — 10 places above Malaysia — despite it being Southeast Asia’s virus hotspot.
Indonesia has orders with at least four vaccine suppliers, including Sinovac Biotech and AstraZeneca, whose shots are in late-stage trials. That access ranks the country second in Asia after China and on par with Japan and India for securing much-anticipated immunisations, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
Pfizer earlier this month announced its vaccine was 95% effective at preventing the disease. The US drugmaker will deliver to Malaysia one million doses in the first quarter of 2021, 1.7 million in the second, 5.8 million in the third and 4.3 million in the final three months of the year, Muhiyddin said.
Malaysia also signed an accord with the WHO-backed Covax programme to provide vaccines for 10% of the population, the news site Malaysiakini reported Friday, citing the premier.
Vaccines will be available to locals for free, while foreigners residing in Malaysia will have to pay for them, the report said. A detailed vaccine roll-out plan will be announced in January.
Malaysia will conduct its first Covid-19 vaccine trial in December as part of a government-to-government agreement with China, the prime minister said. It will be a phase-III trial on a vaccine candidate developed by the Institute of Medical Biology at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences.