KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 7): My EG Services Bhd (MyEG) and Yong Tai Bhd have become the two latest companies to jump on the vaccine distribution bandwagon.
MyEG announced today that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co Ltd (Zhifei) to obtain Malaysian halal certification for the Chinese biopharma company's Covid-19 vaccine and to exclusively distribute the vaccine in Malaysia for a three-year period.
The two groups have agreed to cooperate in conducting Phase 3 clinical trials of Zhifei's vaccine in Malaysia and in achieving compliance with halal status requirements to secure halal certification from the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim), said MyEG in a statement.
It said the commencement of the Phase 3 trials will make Zhifei's vaccine one of the first to undergo the final-stage trials in Malaysia under the purview of the Ministry of Health (MoH).
MyEG shares, which rose as much as 17.4% this morning, pared some of the gains to close 4.97% or nine sen higher at RM1.90, with some 114.9 million shares transacted. This brings the group a market capitalisation of RM6.94 billion. The stock has risen by 72.7% year-to-date (YTD) with a 38.7% jump in the past five weeks.
Property developer Yong Tai is also planning to venture into the vaccine business. Last Friday, it announced plans to collaborate with China-based Shenzhen Kangtai Biological Products Co Ltd for the development and exclusive commercialisation of Covid-19 vaccine in Malaysia.
Yong Tai topped the list of active stocks on Bursa Malaysia today with 860.89 million shares traded. It closed two sen or 5.48% higher at 38.5 sen, valuing the company at RM401.08 million. Over the past five weeks, the counter has skyrocketed by 171.4%. Prior to this, it was hovering below the 20 sen level for over a year.
Apart from MyEG and Yong Tai, four other companies — Ho Wah Genting Bhd, Kanger International Bhd, Solution Group Bhd and Bintai Kinden Corp Bhd — have also announced partnerships relating to the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines. Notably, three of them are also in collaboration with Chinese-based groups.
YTD, the share prices of all of these companies have risen tremendously on the back of the slew of positive vaccine development news, led by Solution Group (up 1,942%) and followed by Bintai Kinden (1,109%), Ho Wah Genting (748%) and Kanger (125%).
In September, Ho Wah Genting, which has been appointed a distributor of a China-developed Covid-19 diagnostic kit in Malaysia until year end, entered into an MoU with Xinkexian (Beijing) Biotechnology Co Ltd (XKX) for a possible partnership.
Ho Wah Genting is considering appointing XKX as its non-exclusive manufacturer to produce Covid-19 vaccines.
Kanger, which is also venturing into the rubber glove making business, said in September that it had entered into a collaboration agreement with Sinopharm Group Hunan Changde Medical Co Ltd relating to the distribution of Covid-19 vaccine and medical equipment products in Malaysia.
The products are developed by state-owned China National Pharmaceutical Group Corp, one of China's largest and oldest biotech companies.
While Sinopharm's Covid-19 vaccine was already approved for emergency use in July, it is also understood that the vaccines are currently under Phase 3 trials — the final stage before being approved for general use in more than 10 countries.
Moreover, Kanger has roped in Zuellig Pharma Sdn Bhd — the largest vaccine distributor in Malaysia and Asia — and K-Star Sport Ltd to collaborate on the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines in Malaysia.
Also, in the same month, Solution Group's subsidiary forged a partnership with China-based CanSino Biologics Inc to market and distribute a Covid-19 vaccine in Malaysia. The vaccine, Adenovirus Type 5 Vector, will be registered after completing a Phase 3 clinical trial with Malaysia's National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency.
Meanwhile, Bintai Kinden in October signed a distribution and licensing agreement with US-based Generex Biotechnology Corp and its subsidiary NuGenerex Immuno-Oncology Inc for their Covid-19 vaccine.
Under the agreement, the company is granted the exclusive right to distribute, sell and commercialise the vaccine in Southeast Asia. It also has the right of first refusal to commercially exploit the vaccine in Australia and New Zealand as well as the global halal market.
Generex, whose vaccine is still in the pre-clinical trial stage, is targeting to get the US Food and Drug Administration's approval in the first or second quarter of 2021.
Inix Technologies Holdings Bhd, which has risen 900% YTD, in September announced that it was in early talks with parties developing a Covid-19 vaccine. However, no updates have been made since.
In July, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had given the nod for the two government-linked pharmaceutical companies — Pharmaniaga Bhd and Duopharma Biotech Bhd — to undertake the fill and finish processes for a Covid-19 vaccine, once the country secures it.
Duopharma Biotech's shares were up 166.2% YTD to RM3.78, while Pharmaniaga surged 159.7% YTD to RM5.35.
Other pharmaceutical companies that have benefitted from the positive vaccine news flow are Apex Healthcare Bhd (up 65.2% YTD) and Kotra Industries Bhd (up 64.4% YTD).
Speaking in Dewan Rakyat today, Khairy said private negotiations done in relation to Covid-19 vaccines by private companies have nothing to do with the government's procurement of vaccines for the country.
Malaysia is the first Southeast Asian country to announce a deal with US drugmaker Pfizer to buy 12.8 million doses of its Covid-19 vaccine.