M'sia buys 12.8 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, will spend 4 months checking if it can be used

Buy first, evaluate later.

Belmont Lay | December 23, 2020, 02:38 AM

Malaysia has bought 12.8 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, but the country has not figured out if the drug can be used on its population.

This was announced by Malaysia's health director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah on Dec. 21, regarding the jointly developed vaccine by Pfizer and German biotechnology firm BioNTech.

News of Malaysia spending the next four months looking into the Covid-19 vaccine's efficacy was reported by the country's media.

The 12.8 million doses of the vaccine is expected to cover 6.4 million people, or about 20 per cent of Malaysia’s population.

Will take four months to study data

Noor Hisham said during the ministry’s Covid-19 press briefing on Monday that it will take up to four months for the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) in Malaysia to evaluate the clinical trial data provided by pharmaceutical giant Pfizer on the Covid-19 vaccine it has developed.

Noor Hisham revealed that the NPRA received a formal application from Pfizer on Dec. 15 to have its Covid-19 vaccine registered in Malaysia.

In response, Malaysia is getting ready to go through the data now.

Noor Hisham said: “The NPRA has identified 11 medical experts who are knowledgeable in this particular area, and they will be tasked to look into the documents that have been provided by the company."

“So, this may take between 90 to 120 days to evaluate."

Buy first, evaluate later

“We expect to officially engage with the company (Pfizer) around the end of this month," Noor Hisham added.

“Our priority is to look into the safety and efficacy of the vaccine.”

Donation of vaccine by UAE

Regarding news of a donation of 500,000 doses of Covid-19 vaccine from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Noor Hisham said NPRA has not received any formal application from the country so far.

“We heard about the donation that 500,000 doses of vaccine will be donated to our country."

“But it is just hearsay so far, nothing has been submitted,” he said.

Noor Hisham also said the NPRA will evaluate the clinical trial data submitted by other sources -- similar as with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine -- before the vaccine can be registered in Malaysia.

Noor Hisham said: “Once the documents are submitted, it will take 90 to 120 days to process."

“Any vaccine or medicine that is to be brought into the country must be registered with the NPRA first.”

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