KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 5): Pharmaniaga Bhd has offered the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine to the Ministry of Health (MOH) to cater to those who prefer to take this brand of vaccine as their booster shot.
In a statement, Pharmaniaga group Managing Director Datuk Zulkarnain Md Eusope said the company is in the final stages of discussion to register the vaccine as a booster shot with the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA), and expects it to be approved very soon.
"We hope once NPRA approves the application, the government will give the green light for the vaccine to be administered as a booster shot for Sinovac recipients.
"The majority of Sinovac recipients received their second dose between June and September. As such, the requirement for a booster shot will start from December onwards and we have enough doses to cater to the needs of the nation,” he said, adding that the vaccine will also be made available for the private market.
According to Zulkarnain, Pharmaniaga had previously supplied more than 22 million doses of Sinovac vaccine to MOH and the private sector. Thus there are about 11 million Sinovac recipients requiring the booster shot.
"The Sinovac Covid-19 booster shot has been approved and used in China, Turkey, Chile, Indonesia and Cambodia. Six other countries are waiting for approval from their respective regulatory authority," said Zulkarnain in a statement on Friday.
Last month, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said his Ministry has decided to administer Covid-19 vaccine booster shots to individuals who have completed two-dose vaccinations of Sinovac vaccine at least three months ago. The Sinovac recipients will be given heterologous booster shots of Pfizer’s Comirnaty vaccine in stages from Oct 22.
However, according to news reports, Johor Democratic Action Party (DAP) leader Dr Boo Cheng Hau said at least 20% of Sinovac recipients are rejecting the Pfizer booster shots as they prefer the same vaccine for their third dose.
Pharmaniaga said a recent real-world study in Chile and an immunogenicity test done in Turkey shows three doses of Sinovac is better than mixing with different vaccines as a booster.
"Research results conducted at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Peking University, and Sinovac Biotech Co Ltd (Sinovac), show a third dose of Sinovac would boost immune response as early as seven days after the booster dose, with longer persistence of antibodies," it said.
It also said, citing Sinovac Oversea Business Senior Director Weining Meng in a recent webinar, that a booster shot given at an interval of six to 12 months after the second dose would lead to a strong boost in immune response, with neutralising antibody titers increasing to about 20 times in adults and even higher in elderly aged above 60 years. "The booster shot is also highly effective in the prevention against the deadly Delta and other variants," said Pharmaniaga.
Shares of Pharmaniaga slipped half a sen or 0.62% to settle at 80.5 sen on Friday's market close, giving it a market capitalisation of RM1.05 billion.