Frankly Speaking: Are private vaccines still coming?

This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly, on October 25, 2021 - October 31, 2021.
Frankly Speaking: Are private vaccines still coming?
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It has been a long wait for the distribution of 6.4 million doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine in Malaysia by Duopharma Biotech Bhd.

Last month, Duopharma said the government had agreed to extend the conditions precedent period until Nov 23. At the same time, the cut-off date under the seller supply agreement had also been extended to the same date.

Similarly, there has been no material update from Solution Group Bhd in recent months with regard to its agreement with CanSino Biologics Inc for the supply of the latter’s Covid-19 vaccine in Malaysia.

In its last announcement to the stock exchange in early August, Solution Group said the vaccine had on June 16 received conditional approval for production registration from the Drug Control Authority, and it would submit an application for a Good Manufacturing Practice audit to the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency for its local fill and finish facility.

Questions are being raised about Bintai Kinden Corp Bhd’s vaccine plan as it seems there has been no significant progress in the development of the vaccine by its little-known US-based partner Generex Biotechnology Corp.

Meanwhile, Yong Tai Bhd is rolling out the Phase III clinical trial for an inactivated Covid-19 vaccine developed by China-based Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products Co Ltd.

After months of clinical trials, are these vaccines on their way? Do we still need them given the high vaccination rate? As of last Friday, 71.8% of the Malaysian population had been fully vaccinated, while the vaccination rate for the adult population was even higher at 94.3%.

More importantly, can these vaccines demonstrate high efficacy for preventing one from contracting the Covid-19 virus, especially with the continuous emergence of breakthrough infections?

It will be interesting to see if the government will include these private deals in the national vaccination programme at a time when more booster shots are needed.

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