Malaysia on March 2 approved urgent conditional approval of the Covid-19 AstraZeneca vaccine of Great Britain and Sinovac China.
The country started the February 24 vaccination series, using the US Pfizer vaccine. The immunization program comes as the government is trying to control subsequent outbreaks, an attempt to revive the economy that has suffered its worst decline in two decades.
After conditional approval, the Astrazeneca vaccine and the Sinovac vaccine will be put into use shortly. But both manufacturers, together with Pfizer, need to provide more data on the safety and efficacy of their products, according to Health Authority Director Noor Hisham Abdullah.
Sinovac has signed an agreement with the Malaysian company Pharmaniaga, which is the main vaccine distributor in any country.
The Malaysian government aims to vaccinate at least 80% of the population, or about 32 million, by February next year. Last month, the authorities said it had bought 66.7 million doses of the vaccine. Experts are also evaluating the Sputnik V vaccine developed by Russia’s Gamaleya Institute.
Covid-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca in collaboration with Oxford University, is prepared using vector technology, using harmless flu virus from chimpanzees, cultured in a laboratory. Viruses contain genes from nCoV. When injected into human cells, they create proteins that help the immune system recognize and respond to pathogens in the future. To date Covid-19 vaccines have been developed based on vector technology including Sputnik-V of the Gamaleya Institute (Russia), Adenovirus 26 of Johnson & Johnson (USA) and Ad5 of CanSino (China).
Beijing-based Sinovac biotech company has adopted one of the most traditional methods to develop Covid-19 vaccine. The injections are based on an inactivated form of nCoV that is given to the body to “train” the immune system in how to recognize and kill pathogens. This company was ahead of most of its competitors, dominating the speed of production. Sinovac’s products are capable of rapid commercialization such as vaccines from the American pharmaceutical company Moderna or the research group University of Oxford / AstraZeneca.
Thuc Linh (Follow Reuters)