Malaysia approves Sinovac, AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines for use

KUALA LUMPUR (CNA) – Malaysia yesterday granted conditional approval for the use of vaccines made by United Kingdom (UK) firm AstraZeneca and China’s Sinovac, just days after launching its nationwide COVID-19 inoculation programme.

Malaysia began its vaccination drive on February 24 using a shot developed by US drugmaker Pfizer and German partner BioNTech, as it tries to rein in a spike in infections and help revive an economy that recorded its worst slump in more than two decades last year.

The conditional approval means Malaysia will use the vaccines developed by AstraZeneca and Sinovac, but both firms – along with Pfizer – will be required to provide additional data on rolling submissions to ensure the vaccines’ effectiveness and safety, Health Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement.

Health authorities are also evaluating the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute, and the local bottling facility for Sinovac’s vaccine, Noor Hisham said.

Sinovac signed a deal with Malaysia’s Pharmaniaga, which will carry out a fill-and-finish process for the vaccine’s distribution in Malaysia, before later manufacturing it locally.

Malaysia aims to vaccinate at least 80 per cent of its population of about 32 million by February next year.

Last month, the government said it secured 66.7 million vaccine doses, enough to cover more than its population.