Malaysia to double AstraZeneca vaccine order
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Malaysia to double AstraZeneca vaccine order

A small shopping basket filled with vials labeled
A small shopping basket filled with vials labeled "Covid-19 - Coronavirus Vaccine" and medical syringes are placed on an AstraZeneca logo in this illustration made Nov 29, 2020. (Reuters file photo)

Malaysia is set to secure an additional 6.4 million doses of the AstraZeneca Plc vaccine via the global Covax facility, and is in talks with Pfizer Inc on an option to boost its purchases, as the nation bolsters its fight against the pandemic.

The deal will see the nation doubling its order from the UK-based drugmaker, with the first batch to arrive in the second quarter of 2021, Science and Technology Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said in a televised briefing Wednesday.

The government is also in final negotiations with China’s Sinovac for 14 million doses, CanSino Biologics for 3.5 million doses, and for 6.4 million shots of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine made by the Gamaleya Institute, Khairy said.

“The deals with Sinovac, Cansino, and Gamaleya will involve local companies that have been identified based on their ability to work together and to provide fill finish manufacturing capacity for the vaccines,” he said.

Malaysia is struggling to stem a fresh wave of cases that emerged in September and threatens a nascent economic recovery. Daily infections hit a record 2,234 on Dec 10, with cases erupting at facilities of companies including Top Glove Corp and Karex Bhd, the world’s biggest producer of condoms.

The country is spending $504 million to buy enough shots to cover 26.5 million people, or about 80% of its population. The government has already secured 12.8 million doses from Pfizer-BioNTech SE in a deal signed last month, and on Tuesday announced a pact to obtain 6.4 million doses directly from AstraZeneca.

Malaysia has negotiated with Pfizer an option to boost its purchases to cover another 20% of its population, and is in talks with Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, Khairy said.

“I won’t rule out the possibility that we will increase our orders slightly,” he said. “Johnson & Johnson is also a single shot. We like single shot, for obvious reasons. So we are still looking at that.”

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